By Garth Shanklin – News Democrat
MOUNT ORAB — Coming off a convincing win over Bethel-Tate last week, the Western Brown Lady Broncos softball team entered the weekend looking for their sixth win in their last seven games. To do so, the team would have to beat a squad that wasn’t on their original schedule.
The Lady Broncos traveled to Roger Bacon to take on the Lady Spartans in a game that was added to the team’s schedule last week. It turned out to be a good decision for the team, as they walked away with a 1-0 win in a pitcher’s dual. The team got their only run in the first inning. Mary Sizer led off with a base hit and scored on a double by Liz Hadley. Sizer then shut out Roger Bacon in the circle, striking out five batters in the process. Sizer didn’t allow a hit through five innings, though Roger Bacon did eventually pick up one hit later in the game.
Head coach Blaine Wallace said the team struck quickly on offense but faded after the first inning.
“We scored a run in the first inning and then, honestly, we just kind of died,” Wallace said. “I told the kids after I wasn’t happy with the way we played. We were just kind of there. There wasn’t much emotion, there wasn’t any enthusiasm.”
Wallace noted the team played well in some aspects of the game, but the offense was not one of them.
“Defensively we played well,” Wallace said. “And [Sizer] pitched well, but offensively we were not good.”
The squad returned to action bright and early last Saturday morning for a non-conference doubleheader against the Wilmington Lady Hurricane. The first game did not start well for the Lady Broncos. The team surrendered five runs in the first inning on just one hit.
“They had one double, we had four errors and a walk,” Wallace said. “When you give up five runs on one hit that’s not a real good start to your day. We battled back into it, but we dug ourselves too big of a hole.”
The Lady Broncos did not go down quietly. Down 6-1 entering the bottom of the fifth inning, the team mounted a two-out comeback. Riese Peters singled followed by a walk to Bailey Darnell. Lexie Walace then singled to score Peters.
One batter later, Hannah Bolender ripped a ball into left field that Wilmington’s outfielder dropped, scoring Darnell. It appeared the ball was dropped during an exchange from the glove to her hand, but the home plate umpire said control had to be maintained through completion of the play and the call stood.
Lacey Wright then hit a sharp ground ball to shortstop that was misplayed, resulting in the Lady Broncos’ third run of the inning. The next batter for Western Brown popped up to end the frame.
The Lady Broncos dented the dish again in the sixth inning. Sizer doubled to right field, tagging and scoring from second base on a deep fly ball to center by Hadley.
The team entered the bottom of the seventh inning down 6-5 and after a solid lineout to left field to start the inning, Bolender singled again to put the tying run on base. She stole second to move into scoring position, but Hailey Moore ripped a line drive right at the shortstop, who made a play and ended the game.
Game two was the Liz Hadley show. She went 3-for-3 with a home run, a double and six runs batted in. Sizer also had three hits for the Lady Broncos as well, knocking in the other two runs. Moore tallied three hits and scored three runs from the leadoff spot for Western Brown as well.
Tessa Pinkerton picked up the win for Western Brown, allowing seven runs (four earned) on nine hits in a complete-game effort. She walked a pair of batters and struck out three.
Despite the pair of victories, Wallace said the team was not in the game mentally at times this past weekend.
“We talk all the time about being mentally prepared and focused,” Wallace said. “We talk about it every day, be it practice or a game. Friday and Saturday we just didn’t get it. Even the second game we won, it wasn’t one of our better efforts.”
Monday was a different story. The Lady Broncos traveled to Goshen for a Southern Buckeye Athletic and Academic Conference shod own with the Lady Warriors and picked up a dominant 8-0 victory.
Sizer went the distance in the circle, tossing seven innings of three-hit ball while striking out nine. She also picked up three hits and three runs batted in at the plate. Wallace was the only other Lady Bronco with multiple hits, as she picked up a double and a single in her three at-bats.
The victory improved the Lady Broncos’ record to 10-3 on the season. The team will look to continue their winning ways with back-to-back home games, the first of which is April 21 against Williamsburg at 4:30. The team will then host Batavia on Friday, April 22 at 4:30 p.m.