In all honesty, there is no remedy when facing a softball team that can put all three phases of the game together.
The Hayes Pacers received strong pitching, timely hitting and errorless defense to remain undefeated in league play, besting the Orange Pioneers 6-1 in Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division action Monday at Pacer Park.
“We had a good, solid effort on the offensive side,” Hayes coach Mark Thomas said. “Our bats were a little slow at the beginning, but they came around about the third inning or so, and (senior second baseman Lindsey) Blair was 4 for 4 with a double. It was a good effort.”
Hayes (8-1, 3-0 OCC Capital) had the better of it all game, outhitting Orange (3-5-1, 1-3) 13-5 and getting on top in the last half of the first after the Pioneers scored the first run. Orange did do well to get the ball in play, but much of the time the ball seemed headed for a Pacer fielder.
“Blair had some nice plays at second, (sophomore Caylin) Morstadt had some good plays at third, and the final out that (sophomore Kaitlynn) Schuette had in left field was a nice catch,” Thomas said. “We played some great defense behind (sophomore pitcher Madi) Huck.”
“I thought we put the ball in play pretty well all game long,” Orange coach Bruce Leary said. “They just outhit us. That’s pretty much the story.”
Huck, meanwhile, worked another solid seven innings, allowing just the first-inning run and five hits with two hit batters and two strikeouts.
Orange scored its lone run in the opening inning when senior second baseman Rachel Ramsey hit a one-out single to shallow left, went to third on a single to right center from junior catcher Kyle Davidson, and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by junior shortstop Emily Grabau.
Hayes got things started in the bottom half with junior Jordan Osborne drawing a four-pitch walk, Blair ripping a single to deep right to move Osborne to third, and the two working a perfect delayed double steal on the first pitch to senior shortstop Mikayla Cooper.
Cooper then hit a hard ground ball up the middle all the way to the wall for an RBI double, scoring Blair from second.
Hayes extended the lead in the third when Osborne reached on an error on a dropped pop up, went to second on a Blair single through the left side of the infield, and scored on a single to center by Huck.
The Pacers added two more in the fifth on an RBI double to center by Schuette that scored Cooper and a run-scoring single down the right field line from sophomore first baseman Mackenzie Stonebraker that brought Schuette home.
Senior catcher Kaitlyn Woerner opened the Hayes sixth with a double to the wall in left center and scored when Morstadt singled to left for the final run.
“We’re not needing to rely on our seniors for key hits,” Thomas said. “Our freshmen and sophomores are coming around, and we’re hitting the ball from top to bottom.”
Orange put together a solid rally in the seventh. Sophomore first baseman Alayna Kaschak was hit by the first pitch she saw and went to second on a sacrifice by junior third baseman Taylor Pirko.
Freshman pinch hitter Alex Nagy was then hit by a pitch to put two runners on, but Kaschak was retired at third on a fielder’s choice by sophomore right fielder Nina Sensibaugh, and sophomore center fielder Maicy Kirk sent a fly ball to deep left center only to see Schuette make a reaching catch at the fence for the final out.
Woerner added a double and single to go with Blair’s four hits, while senior right fielder Chandler Fields added a pair of singles for the Pacers. Cooper and Schuette had an RBI each, while Huck, Stonebraker and Morstadt added a single and an RBI apiece.
Orange junior right-hander Jenn Kurelic pitched well, but took the loss, allowing six runs, five earned, 13 hits and a walk with four strikeouts.
Davidson had two of the five Pioneer singles, with Kurelic, Ramsey and Grabau adding a single each, Grabau driving in the only Orange run with her sacrifice fly.
•Liberty buried visiting Westland early, plating four runs in the first inning and seven in the second en route to a lopsided 13-2 OCC-Central Division win Monday in Powell.
The Patriots (4-5) scored two more runs in the fourth before starting and winning pitcher Sarah Eschleman blanked the Cougars in the top of the fifth to end things early.
Kristen Adkins had the biggest blow among the team’s 10-hit attack, clubbing a three-run homer in the second inning.