The iCASE girls softball team kicked off their Florida exhibition series with a solid doubleheader effort against the Diamond Girls based out of Sanford, Florida.
The girls fought through their bus legs in game one, and settled in after a slow start, adjusting back to action in the grass and on the dirt. Maddie Hickingbottom got the start on the mound and she was lights out form the start, giving up one unearned run in three innings of work, while striking out three, and working well with battery mates Claire Lavereau and Sydney Pendleton. Ella Busch was equally effective in her iCASE debut, giving up one unearned run on two hits. Solid defense also on display as Megan Jesse, Mia Valcke and Busch provided steady work in the field.
At the plate in game one, the girls were settling into their first game action since October. They were led by Busch who got the bats going with a loud line drive single up the middle. This was followed by a deep triple by Hickingbottom, scoring the first run of the game for the Huskies, and tying the game at 1-1. iCASE came close to taking the lead in both the third and fourth innings.
Riley Strauss led off the third by taking one for the team and getting on-base, and eventually advanced to third on a well-executed slap hit by Avery Hilpert. In the fourth, Pendleton beat out an infield single, and was advanced to second on a sac bunt by Blythe Hilpert.
After the Diamond Girls scored in the bottom of the fourth, the Huskies threatened once again in the fifth, with Katie Oberle hitting a one-out single up the middle, and advancing to third with a wild pitch and a passed ball. The Huskies were unable to cash in, however, and the rain-shortened game ended in favor of the Diamond Girls by a 2-1 score.
Game two was a different story as iCASE settled in on both sides of the ball and took it to the Diamond Girls right from the start. Busch continued into game two on the mound, and settled in to her game. The Diamond Girls again scored in the first, using great speed to score the game’s first run. From there, however, it was all Huskies . . .
The girls got their legs under them at the plate and responded right away in the first, led by Lavereau, who scored the first Huskies’ run and ended the game with three runs on three base hits, using her wheels to put pressure on the Diamond girls. Lavereau scored on a solid single by Rachel Sothern, and after a line drive single up the middle by Pendleton, Hickingbottom cashed in two more runs with a solid single to left, putting iCASE ahead 3-1.
Rylie Strauss took over on the mound and pitched two scoreless innings. She was supported by great defense as the Diamond Girls threatened in the third, but a well-executed run down by Jesse and Pendleton ended a threat.
The Huskies kept the pressure on with four runs in the second inning, led by Jesse, Avery Hilpert, Lavereau and Mia Valcke scoring to take a 7-1 lead.
iCASE got right back at it in the fourth inning with Strauss drawing a walk , followed by a singles by Jesse and Lavereau, loading the bases. Valcke delivered the final blow, stepping up to the plate and crushing a 2-1 pitch to deep right field, then using her speed for a game slam home run, and an 11-1 lead for iCASE.
Most impressive was how quickly the girls came together in the first competitive on-field game opportunity. Looking forward to how they build on it through the week as they travel to face the Hatter’s Gold and then the Diamond Girlz in a doubleheader tonight at Red Bug Lake Park in Casselberry, followed by doubleheaders in Palm Bay on Wednesday against the Brevard Aces and Wagner’s Gold in Winter Garden on Friday.