Coming into the season, most teams feared facing Garaway’s line-up of mashers including Kaitlyn Stress, Hannah Halstead, Kassidy Reidenbach and Allison Luneborg.
But the Lady P’s line-up has turned into a bona fide New York Yankees’ 1927 Murderer’s Row, with additions like Amber Monigold, Chelsi Rothacher, Zoe Johnson and Jocelyn Troyer only adding to the bats that are capable of swatting the ball out of the yard on any given night.
On Tuesday, May 2 versus Ridgewood, it was Rothacher and Johnson who crushed the ball deep, leading Garaway to its 20th win.
Garaway and Ridgewood faced off for the second time in five days. As was the case in West Lafayette last Thursday, wind once again played a huge factor in the game’s outcome. Last week it was a strong wind blowing in from left field that turned the contest into a pitcher’s duel. This time around, the offenses gained payback. A wind advisory was in effect at game time, causing strong gusts to predominantly blow out to right field. Any ball hit into the air turned into a challenge for the defense. The Lady Pirates and Generals combined for 17 runs and 26 hits as each team sent two different pitchers into the circle. Garaway came out on top with an 11-6 win, earning its 20th win of the season.
It was a pair of sophomores who set the tone for the Lady Pirates in the first inning. Rothacher led off the bottom of the first with her third home run of the season, a shot to dead center.
“As the lead-off hitter, my job is to hit the ball and get on,” Rothacher said. “Hitting a home run to start the game is a great feeling because you get a rally started and set the tone for the game.”
Johnson decided to play follow-the-leader, and sent a homer to nearly the identical spot. For Johnson it was also number three for the year.
“When Chelsi hit her home run I thought to myself, it would be pretty cool if we hit back-to-back homers, and then it happened,” Johnson said.
The Pirates offense continued to pound the ball in the bottom of the second inning. Monigold led off the inning with a double deep into the left field gap. Sierra Slentz moved Monigold over to third with a sacrifice bunt, and after a pop fly for out number two, Monigold scored on a wild pitch to put Garaway up 3-0.
With two outs, the inning was just getting started for the Pirates. Johnson drew a walk. Stress smashed a double, putting runners on second and third and Reidenbach singled to bring Johnson home, moving to second on the play. Halstead followed with a 2-RBI single giving Garaway what appeared to be a commanding 6-0 lead.
Now it was time for the Generals offense to kick into gear. After cruising through the first two innings, Luneborg got into trouble in the third. Three consecutive softly hit grounders found holes through the Pirates infield, loading the bases for Ridgewood with no outs. Rachel Simpson connected for a double to cut the Pirates lead to 6-2. Luneborg picked up two outs and appeared to be on her way to ending the inning when Autumn Brown singled to cut the Pirates lead in half at 6-3.
Garaway earned two of those runs back in the bottom of the third. Luneborg singled to start the inning and moved to second on a Monigold bunt. Slentz singled to put runners on the corners. Luneborg scored on a wild pitch, which also moved Slentz to second base. Johnson continued her big night with an RBI double to score Slentz. Once again Garaway had a comfortable lead, 8-3.
Ridgewood put runners on first and third with a pair of line drive singles in the fourth inning. With a pair of runners on and only one out, the Pirates turned the pitching circle over to Reidenbach, who was greeted with a line drive single by General lead-off hitter Audrey Tingle. The RBI once again cut the Pirate lead in half, this time 8-4. Reidenbach worked out of the inning without any more damage.
Garaway responded quickly. Reidenbach singled to start the inning and Halstead moved courtesy runner Cassy Donaldson over to second base with a bunt. Luneborg doubled to bring home Donaldson, with Luneborg ending up moving to third on a wild pitch and then scoring on a passed ball, putting Garaway back up by six at 10-4.
A pair of singles and an error accounted for another Ridgewood run in the fifth inning. However, the story of the night was every time Ridgewood scored, the Pirates answered.
The answer in the bottom of the fifth once again came from the mighty bat of Rothacher who torched another home run.
“In my previous at bat I was not patient and went after the first pitch,” Rothacher said. “I knew I had to be patient and just had to use my fundamentals.”
As the saying goes, patience is a virtue. Rothacher sent a deep drive to center-field. Ridgewood center fielder Audrey Tingle raced for the ball and had it in her sights. As Tingle crashed into the fence, Rothacher’s drive dropped on the other side of the fence for her second home run of the game and the Pirates lead was now 11-5.
Johnson followed and attempted to duplicate the first inning. This time she came up a few feet short with her second double of the game. Johnson ended up getting stranded at third at the end of the inning.
With the hard-fought victory, the Pirates are one step closer to clinching the Inter-Valley Conference Championship. Sitting in first place at 12-1, Garaway travels to East Canton on Wednesday, hosts Newcomerstown Friday and finishes up Saturday at noon with Hiland.