It was definitely a hitters’ night at Red Bug Lake Park in Casselberry on Tuesday. While a cold front had moved in, the bats were hot and the cool air meant the ball was flying off the bats as the iCASE girls faced Hatter’s Gold and Diamond Girlz Premier.
In game one, Rylie Straus led off the first with a solid single down the third base line and advanced to third, but the Huskies were not able to cash her in. This would be one of only three innings all night that the girls did not put runs on the board.
After Hatter’s Gold scored three in the bottom half of the first with solid contact, the Huskies got on the board with three consecutive singles by Rachel Sothern, Megan Jesse and Mia Valcke, with Valcke’s cashing in the first two runs. This was followed by Sydney Pendleton scoring Valcke and tying the game at three . . . and the battle was on.
Skyler Stockie shut down Hatter’s batters with a one-two-three second inning, including two strikeouts, and the Huskies took the lead in the third inning with Avery Hilpert’s lead-off single, Blythe Hilpert’s perfect sacrifice bunt and Claire Lavereau’s single up the middle. The Hatter’s Gold responded with three runs of their own, including their second line drive home run of the night, taking a 6-4 lead.
In the fourth, iCASE battled back with two runs of their own. Ella Busch got things going with a line shot to right centre. After Maddie Hickingbottom drew a walk, and a passed ball moved Busch to third, Skyler Stockie scored Busch and moved the Huskies within a run. After Stockie moved to third on a wild pitch and a passed ball, Jesse scored her with another solid single and we were once again back to square at 6-6.
After Hatter’s Gold kept the pressure on, and scored two more in the fourth, Katie Oberle came in to shut the door in fifth. The Huskies themselves were not able to get over the top and grab the lead, and the final score of 8-6 in favor of Hatter’s. It was one of those games where you tip your hat to the opposition, after a great show of offense and a classic battle.
Game two was very similar in that the ball was popping off the bats. Katie Oberle got the start against the strong opposition in the Diamond Girlz Premier, who came in to the game with a record of 38 wins and 5 losses. The Diamond Girlz got one in the top of the first to take the early lead. Leadoff hitter Claire Lavereau started the game with another solid single up the middle. This was followed by the big hit of the night, a crushing two-run homer to right field by Oberle, and a 2-1 lead for iCASE. However, the Diamond Girlz responded with four runs in the top of the second, and a 5-2 lead. In the bottom half the second, Skyler Stockie lead off with a single and advanced to third on a single by Megan Jesse. Mia Valcke drew a one-out walk to load the bases. In what felt like the highlight of the night, the Diamond Girlz pitcher snared a Sydney Pendleton liner up the middle, which was followed by a strong defensive play on Avery Hilpert’s grounder up the middle to end the Huskies threat.
Maddie Kickingbottom took over in the third and began with back-to-back strikeouts. After a defensive communication miscue by the Huskies, the Diamond Girlz hit a gapper and scored the go-ahead run to take a 6-2 lead. Hickingbottom ended the inning, handling a comebacker to retire the side.
In the bottom half, the Huskies bats exploded to score six runs and take an 8-6 lead. Blythe Hilpert began the rally with a solid opposite field line drive. This was followed by a sweet slap bunt by Lavereau, a walk by Strauss, and a solid single again by four-hitter Ella Busch, plating pinch-runner Avery Hilpert and Lavereau. Skyler Stockie took advantage of a Diamond Girlz error to reach base, and scored on solid sinlges by Rachel Sothern, Megan Jess and Mia Valcke, who cashed in two with her liner to right centre, held to a single thanks to a great defensive play by the Diamond Girlz centrefielder. The Diamond Girlz were able to shut down the inning with a strikeout of Pendleton.
The Huskies opposition fought hard in the top of the last inning, scoring two runs on a single, walk and triple. But Hickingbottom closed the night for the Diamond Girlz with back-to-back strikeouts, giving her four in two innings of work, and keeping the score 8-8.
While iCASE had their sights on a last-inning walk off, the Diamond Girlz pitcher shut down the side in order, ending the tilt in a fitting tie, and another successful night of softball, against two strong opponents, for the girls from Ontario.