The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

May 4, 2012

Not perfect, but...

Urchek & Co. are plenty good enough to prevail at Ledgemont

THOMPSON TOWNSHIP — Coming off of a perfect game Wednesday against an overmatched Bloomfield team, the Pymatuning Valley Lakers and ace pitcher Sarah Urchek had a much tougher task at hand Thursday when they traveled to Thompson Township to tangle with the Ledgemont Redskins.

Urchek, the 2011 Star Beacon Ashtabula County Player of the Year and a Point Park signee, had dominated Bloomfield, fanning 13 of the 15 hitters.

But while having won only three times this season, the Redskins have some quality players. Starting playing some smallball, PV went to a power game in the fifth inning to score enough runs to close out a 10-0 game that was a bit more difficult than the score indicates.

“We have a solid leadoff hitter in Jenna Lower,” PV coach Andy Gray said. “When she starts us off good, we usually do pretty well in games.”

Lower did her thing extremely well in this ballgame. She led off by drilling the first pitch of the game from Lydia Baldauf into center field for a single, moved up on a wild pitch, took third on an infield out and came home when Heather Brant blooped a single just beyond the reach of the Redskin shortstop for another hit and a 1-0 lead.

The stage was set. Brant stole second, took third when the catcher’s throw sailed into center field and came home when Melanie Somerville sent a shot to the third baseman for another out.

One walk and three straight singles, the last by Amanda Howett, plated the third Laker run, and it proved to be all they needed. But they worked for a few more, anyway.

Lower reached on her second appearance on an error on the infield, stole second and raced home all the way from second as Urchek put down a nice bunt for a sacrifice. Lower never slowed down in catching the Redskin infield in a slow moment.

Urchek singled home Kayla Hanneman and Lower, who took a pitch for the team in her third at bat, and PV had a comfortable 6-0 lead.

Urchek (14-6) was sharp, for the most part, allowing but two singles and three walks to Ledgemont (3-18, 2-14 in NAC).

“We put up a good battle today,” Ledgemont coach Katie Brainard said. “It was like it has been most of the season for us, a struggle hitting. We at least had a chance to score in the fourth inning when we loaded the bases with only one out, but we didn’t get the big hit.”

Lower had scored three of the six Laker runs to that point, but Ledgemont has players capable of producing runs, and Gray was aware of that.

“Our second baseman today (Amanda Howett) really had a good game defensively,” he said. “She got to a few popups to stop any rallies they could get going. This was a very good game for us to win, but I would like to have seen us cut down on the strikeouts.”

Baldauf pitched well for the Redskins, but the Lakers (17-6, 14-3 in NAC) pecked away for the early runs and erupted for four more in the fifth inning when PV sent some deep shots to the outfield with runners on base.

After the first two hitters took pitches to their posterior anatomies, Lower was retired for the first time on a long fly to center that a stiff wind knocked down. Urchek sent a liner to right that the fielder just missed a diving catch on, sending both runners home and after Brant walked, Somerville ripped a double over the left fielder’s head for the runs needed for the mercy killing.

Urchek finished her strong game by fanning the last two hitters of the game with a runner at third base, and the stage is now set for a stern test for PV at Girard tomorrow.

“Winning today is a good way for us to get ready for Girard,” Gray said of today’s contest. “I think they are something like 19-1, so we’ll have our work cut out for us.”

Lower scored three times, Urchek drove home four with her pair of hits, Brant scored twice and had two hits, and everybody in the starting lineup reached base safely with hits.

Rachel Cipola and Haley Smychynsky had the Ledgemont hits.

Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.

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