A little bit of small ball went a long way in producing some big-time runs for the Garaway Lady Pirates when they faced the Hiland Lady Hawks Monday, April 13 in Sugarcreek.
Two perfectly executed suicide squeeze bunts (video) got Garaway its first two runs, opening the floodgates to a convincing 13-1 victory over Hiland.
“We had an opportunity to score in the first inning when we put our lead-off hitter on, and then we had three really good hitters coming up and they just weren’t seeing the ball well,” said Garaway coach Dennis Koshmider. “After that, we had a chance to get things going in the second inning, and I decided to get that started with a little small ball. That was very successful for us. I think that is what got us going. We executed this splays well and that is tough on the defense.”
Amber Immel followed the two suicides with an RBI single to make it 3-0 Garaway after two.
Hiland got one run back in one swing of the bat, when Kelsey Mast ripped a shot over the wall in left field to make it 3-1.
However, if Hiland thought fielding suicide squeeze play bunts was tough, they were about to experience a tough inning of a much worse kind.
Three straight walks by Hiland pitcher Allison Aleshire started the inning.
Katya Misko and Lexi Lingler ripped run-scoring singles (video) to make it 5-1, then Abby Detweiler came up and promptly unloaded the previously loaded bases with a triple to the wall in center.
Now up 8-1, Garaway was just getting started. An Amber Immel infield single plated Detweiler, before Hannah Halstead stroked a double to the wall in left to score the speedy Immel. With Halstead eventually advancing to third on a wild pitch, Garaway catcher Kendall Reidenbach got the shortest sacrifice fly of her career, popping a foul ball over the first base bag. Hiland second baseman Brittany Wengerd made a sensational diving catch on the play, but that allowed Halstead to scoot home.
Suddenly Garaway was leading 11-1. Two more runs in the fourth inning and Garaway had more than enough of a lead to end it in five innings.
Both coaches felt that the suicide squeeze plays turned momentum Garaway’s way, and Hiland coach Erica Glasener said of the plays, “We have to learn to communicate better on situations like that.”
However, both coaches agreed too that pitching depth plays a key role. Aleshire has been pretty much the only pitcher the Lady Hawks have had all season, with Wengerd’s arm hurting.
“People know we have to throw Ally, and they know what to expect because they have all seen her a lot,” said Glasener.
“That makes it tough on Ally to have to go ever game because they know what she has and they know what to sit on.”
Koshmider could not argue that point.
“Ally is a great kid and a great ball player,” said Koshmider of the Hiland junior pitcher. “It’s a tough spot for her to be in when you don’t have another pitcher to bring in.”
That is not the case for the Lady Pirates, who boast four quality pitchers, including the winner in this one, sophomore Kaitlyn Stress.
Hurling her first varsity game, Stress looked strong, allowing only the Mast home run. Hiland idd hit some balls on the nose, but Garaway’s defense was put to the task, Halstead making a couple of nifty plays at shortstop.
With ace Allison Luneborg, Alexis Miller and Kassidy Reidenbach, Koshmider has the luxury of turning to multiple pitchers whenever the need arises.
“Kaitlyn doesn’t throw as hard as some of our other pitchers, but being left-handed gives her a little different look, and she did a good job of keeping Hiland off balance,” said Koshmider.
At the plate, Immel was the spark that ignited the Lady Pirates, hammering out three hits in a team effort that saw Garaway hit the ball well up and down the line-up.
The win moves Garaway to 6-3 overall and 2-0 in league play, while Hiland falls to 0-7, 0-3 in the Inter-Valley Conference.