GREENVILLE — The Lady Wave softball team started their second season on Thursday with a bang, winning 8-1 in their first tournament game against the Benjamin Logan Raiders.
“There wasn’t a doubt about it, it’s all about preparation and determination,” Greenville softball coach Jerrod Newland said. “Today we came out pretty determined to get things done.”
This is now the 11th year that the Lady Wave have won at least 25 games in a season. The team now will leave Stebbins Field undefeated at home, 16-0, for the 2014 season.
“That’s what it’s all about, protecting the house,” Newland said.
The Lady Wave took a first-round bye in the Division II tournament and faced the Raiders, who had had previously taken down 10th seed Greenon 11-1 on Tuesday.
The Lady Wave made their charge early in the bottom of the first inning. Ally Russell gained first from a walk, and Allison Minnich hit to right field for a double. Jazzlyn Petry later popped one out in fright field, allowing Russell’s courtesy runner to score, making it 1-0.
Ally Hill then drove in a run for the Wave’s second and final run of the first inning.
“Obviously to be able to jump them for two in the first inning was huge because I figured we needed every one of them that we could get,” Newland said.
In the bottom of the third, Minnich led off with a double into right-center field, sliding into second base. Haleigh Luce eventually walked onto first after tiring out the Raiders’ pitcher by hanging in for 15 pitches.
“When you’re there in the third inning doing that, that wears on a pitcher,” Newland said. “That was huge getting things going and wearing out their best player.”
During Hill’s at bat, a passed ball set up Luce and Minnich to second and third bases then Hill later popped into right field for the sacrifice RBI, making it 3-0.
“We put a little pressure on. That’s the key: wreak a little havoc when we get on base,” Newland said. “We played a little small ball today, trying to bunt the ball a little bit by making them pick up the ball.”
At the top of the fourth, Tahlsa Bowshier hit into the infield and an error allowed her to get on base. She later took second off a passed ball. Next Sydney Evans gained first off a walk then pitcher Kate Campbell hit a one-pitch single into left field to load the bases with no outs. Darian Rockhold hit a fielder’s choice and was out at first, but Bowshier made it home to score for the Raiders for a 3-1 score.
But the Lady Wave stopped the advance there as the Raiders’ next two batters struck out and were thrown out at first, eventually stranding two runners.
In the bottom of the fourth, Ashton Kester drove into the outfield for a single then Karlee Lennen followed her lead with another hit out in center field to gain first. Brionna Greer set up a perfect bunt to load the bases.
Russell lined right up the middle for a hard shot into center field, and Karsyn Shaffer scored as a courtesy runner for the Wave, making it 4-1.
Then Minnich’s next hit was bobbled in left field, setting up enough time for Greer and Lennen to score. And the hits kept on coming, as Luce hit deep into center field for a sacrifice RBI, smoothing out the lead at 7-1.
“Hitting gets contagious when things get going like that,” Newland said. “Obviously getting back the momentum was huge there.”
Finally, Petry then hit deep into left field for another sacrifice RBI to score Minnich from third, making it 8-1.
Evans started the sixth inning a leadoff single for the Raiders then stole a base during Campbell’s at bat. Campbell hit deep into right field, but Lennen darted for the catch, and Evans tagged up to get to third.
Darian Rockhold was hit by a pitch to gain first then stole second base. But Shelby Harvey struck out looking, and Kenzie Heater was thrown out at first to end the inning with no runs.
Although Minnich gained first base in the sixth inning, making her 4-for-4 for the evening with two doubles and two singles, but unfortunately was left stranded.
“She’s a stud. She’s had a great year with more than 40 hits,” Newland said. “She just works at her game and does it the right way.”
Russell finished out the game strongly, striking out the side in the top of the seventh and totalling 10 strikeouts for the day.
As for the totals of the game, Greenville earned 10 hits for the night with the Raiders earning only four.
The Lady Wave are now 25-3 on the season as they head into the sectional championships Tuesday against the winner of Tippecanoe and Northwestern.
And from this point forward, the team and coaches are focused on the battling for the state championship down in Akron.
“It doesn’t matter who we play,” Newland said. “All eyes are on one thing starting tonight.”