Wapakoneta Redskins senior Alexis Schwartz (17) throws a ball to the infield Tuesday against the Van Wert Cougars in a Western Buckeye League varsity softball game at Wapakoneta High School. (Staff photo/Michelle Frank)
The bats finally came alive for the Wapakoneta Redskins in the fourth inning as they grinded out a 2-1 victory over the Van Wert Cougars in a Western Buckeye League varsity softball matchup Tuesday at Wapakoneta High School.
Renee Lovett had a stellar outing on the mound for Redskins, who limited the Cougars’ offense to just four hits. Lovett pitched a complete game and one earned run.
“Renee has been working hard and is starting to come in her own,” Wapak varsity coach Bill Sammons said. “She really only needs a fastball and a changeup. She’s going to win a lot of games with just her fastball and changeup.”
Lovett also posted seven strikeouts and just one walk.
“She’s a senior and has high expectations for this team, but she can’t force things,” said Sammons. “She has to let things happen and she’s doing a good job of that.”
Van Wert got on the board first in the third inning to take a 1-0 lead.
Alyssa Bowen reached base when Lovett hit her with a pitch. Tiffany Rickets then helped Bowen to second on a sacrifice bunt, and Bowen secured third on a Kateri Steinecker single. Bowen scored on an error when Alisha Dirr, playing third base, threw the ball in the dirt trying to get Van Wert’s Saige Royer out at first base.
With the Cougars up 1-0 and runners on the corners, Lovett locked down and forced Van Wert’s Claire White to pop out at third and then struck out Emily Bair to limit the damage.
Wapakoneta then got its first hit from Bridgitte Weaks in the bottom of the third inning, when she managed to get to second before the inning was over without managing to get on the scoreboard.
In the fourth inning, the Redskins began to figure out Van Wert pitcher Brook Brown’s slower speed pitching.
Blasia Moyler began the inning with a triple, and Alexis Schwartz brought her home with a double to even the score at 1-1.
“We finally got back-to-back hits, which is the whole key to winning ball games,” Sammons said.
The Redskins looked to score more when Dirr walked and Tiffanie Camper reached first on an error. Weaks, however, struck out to end the inning, and the score remained tied.
“Alexis has been crushing the ball lately and doing a really good job battling,” Sammons said. “Blasia is doing a really good job at being focused and humble.”
The bottom of the fifth saw the Cougars come out with a new pitcher with a faster speed pitching style in Steinecker. The Redskins seemed to favor the faster speeds and made their rally complete with a good inning.
“We like to hit faster pitchers,” Sammons said. “We seemed to feel more comfortable when (Steinecker) came in.”
Lovett walked to start the inning and managed to reach third on a stolen base and a wild pitch, before Moyler batted her in with a single to give Wapakoneta the lead, 2-1.
Lovett continued her great afternoon in the circle the next two innings.
Only one batter reached base, on an error, while she struck out three, including two in the top of the seventh to polish off the league win for the Redskins.
The win marked a great achievement for the young Redskins team.
“This is an extremely young team, and it was really nice to see us being in the fire (Tuesday) and to see how we would react to that,” Sammons said. “The girls didn’t shudder, they continued to work hard, stay focused and were aggressive to the task at hand.”
Wapakoneta will be back in action this afternoon at 5 p.m. on the road against the Lima Central Catholic Thunderbirds.
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