WESTFIELD - After Westfield had scored a run in the bottom of the sixth inning to tie the game 2-all, Ripley's Ryleigh Hawkins led off the top of the seventh with a home run, helping the Lady Eagles past the Lady Wolverines, 3-2 in non-league softball action.
"She's only a freshman," Ripley head coach Mike Torrance said of Hawkins. "I told her she was due and she said, 'I know.'"
"Ryleigh owned Kristyn (LeBaron) all day," Westfield head coach Dave Luder said. "If somebody has been hitting you all day, you can't come out and throw it down the heart (of the plate) and that's exactly what she did and Ryleigh showed she's a good hitter."
Photo by Mark L.?Anderson
Westfield’s Kristyn LeBaron delivers a pitch during Wednesday’s non-league softball game against Ripley.
Emilee Steger, another freshman, helped the Lady Eagles at the plate and in the circle Wednesday afternoon, combining with Hawkins to go 5 for 8 with three extra-base hits, two RBIs and three runs scored.
"You look to the future right?" Torrance asked rhetorically. "It's fantastic. Particularly when it's the young kids. It doesn't take a lot to get them down, but that really kept them up."
Steger allowed two runs on four hits while striking out six and walking two, retiring 15 of the final 17 Lady Wolverines she faced.
"She got her confidence up and she felt better," Torrance said of Steger. "She's only a ninth grader and she was pretty nervous. My pitching coach talked to her and I talked to her.
"She was short-arming (her pitches)," Torrance continued. "I told her she really needed to stretch her arm out and use her hips. She wasn't bringing her hips around real hard, but then she started bearing down a little bit."
LeBaron was equal to the task, allowing three runs on eight hits while striking out five and walking two for the Lady Wolverines.
"I thought Kristyn pitched a good enough game to win," Luder said.
The Lady Eagles jumped on top 1-0 in the first inning after Hawkins led off the game with a triple, and was promptly chased home by a single off the bat of Steger.
"That's the biggest thing you can do," Torrance said of grabbing the lead early. "Get the runs in and let them play your game."
Westfield was able to piece together a run in the second inning to tie the game 1-all. Savannah Rowan led off with a single, moved to second on a passed ball and reached third on a fielder's choice off the bat of Mackenzie DeLand. Kath Catalano followed with an RBI groundout to second base for the tying run.
"Those are my young girls," Luder said. "Savannah started off with an infield single, then she got the passed ball and Kath (Catalano) had the RBI."
Carson Hauser singled for the Lady Wolverines, but was called out for leaving first base too early on a stolen base attempt. Steger did not allow another Westfield batter to reach base until the bottom of the sixth inning.
"I thought the largest difference was they had more enthusiasm," Luder said. "They had more hustle than we did and we talked about that. It's not typical of the girls I've had in the past. But my young girls I thought did OK today, it's just too bad the seniors didn't lead them a little bit better."
Ripley regained the lead in the top of the fifth inning, as Steger doubled with one out, before Kalisha Swoger reached on an infield single, moving Steger to third. Swoger then advanced to second on a passed ball. LeBaron got Samantha Trevelline to fly out to shallow left for the second out, but was unable to retire Samantha Judd, who singled home Steger with the go-ahead run.
"'I walked over and I asked them, 'How come all you girls are smiling?'" Torrance said. "They said, 'Because we're winning, we just love it. We're feeling good.' I told them that's the way it should be. Everyone has their bad days, but everyone has their good days, too."
Down a run heading into the bottom of the sixth, the Wolverines would again be able to piece together the tying run. Wood singled to start the frame, ending Steger's streak of consecutive batters retired at nine. Consecutive passed balls then moved Wood to third, before Steger was able to get Allen swinging. However, a shallow fly ball to right off the bat of Shepard allowed Wood to race home with the tying run.
"Lynn Wood, what can I say?" Luder said. "She came up and did exactly what a captain is supposed to do. She took advantage of just a little tipped ball off the catcher's glove twice and she was standing on third base. She hustles and again we got break and we got this little fly ball to second base and she tagged up on it and scored."
Hawkins took the air out of the Lady Wolverines' sails, stepping to the plate to start the seventh and sending a line drive over Catalano's head in center for the eventual game-winning home run.
"I think this is really going to help us," Torrance said of the win. "We got down and it seems like this year, so far, when we've had scrimmages, every fourth or fifth inning, talk about bad luck, it was falling out of the sky on us. But today they even commented to me that we got by the fourth inning. It really helped and they really kept it up and it turned out good for our side."