The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

May 4, 2012

Taking the right path

Spartans make correct turn at crossroads to top Edgewood

CONNEAUT — After scoring five times in the first two innings, the Conneaut softball team was facing a crossroads against Edgewood on Thursday at Skippon Park.

The Spartans didn’t even slow down to see where the other road went in beating the Warriors, 13-6.

It was a contest that wasn’t originally scheduled, but played because both the Warriors and Spartans have had trouble getting games in. Not playing in a league has hurt the teams. They have both lost scheduled tilts because opponents have canceled on them to make up league contests.

“I want to thank (Edgewood) for coming out here and playing today,” acting Conneaut coach Joel Taylor, who doubles as the athletic director, said. “It was a random phone call and they answered. The girls had to hurry and get their stuff and they weren’t expecting to play today.

“It was a classy thing to do (to come out and play us today). They’re a classy group over there and they’re a good team. I wish them all the best.”       

Edgewood (7-8) had scratched its way back into the contest with four runs in the top of the third after Conneaut scored three in the first and two more in the second.

The Warriors had picked up some momentum and Conneaut (10-1) needed to answer.

Dani Heinonen led off with a single, stole second and scored on Emilee Bucci’s  double down the left-field line. Kayla Brennan followed with a single, moving Bucci to third. Bucci scored after the Warriors tried to gun down Brennan stealing second. Lydia Coccitto singled home Brennan and Lexi Zappitelli singled in Coccitto to put the Spartans up five, 9-4, once again through three.

“Here’s the thing,” Taylor said. “Before that inning, I said we’d see what kind of team we are. Bless them, they came back and put fours on the board.

“That kind of inning (Edgewood had put up) can change the direction of a game. They had momentum. (Not scoring there) could have changed the momentum.”    

Heinonen, with some help from the Edgewood defense, started another four-run inning for the Spartans in the fourth. She reached on a two-base error when a routine fly ball was misplayed in the outfield. Bucci doubled to left-center driving Heinonen home. Brennan singled to right Coccitto hit a sac fly to right scoring Bucci and Tori Simek and Zappitelli each added run-scoring singles to put Conneaut up, 13-4, after four.

Zappitelli (8-1) earned the win. Over five innings, she allowed four hits, four runs, two of them earned, walked two and struck out four.

Megan Picard pitched the final three innings after Zappitelli was forced to leave with a leg injury. She gave up two runs, both earned, on three hits, walked one and struck out two.

“(Lexi) is a competitor,” Taylor said. “She hated having to come tell me she was hurting. She didn’t want to come out, but first and foremost, I have to worry about the kids’ safety.

“Megan came in and we didn’t skip a beat.”  

The Warriors tallied two in the seventh following a leadoff double from Amanda Rodenbucher. Taylor Diemer followed with a bunt single Deanna Laughlin plated Rodenbucher with a sac fly to right. A single from Saturday scored Diemer for the final run.

Laughlin (0-1) made the emergency start for the Warriors, her first appearance of the season, and took the loss.

“We kind of threw Dee out there in a bad spot,” Edgewood coach Steve Cunha said. “She had no idea she was pitching until about 15 minutes before the game. She did a nice job. She settled into a rhythm.

“(Conneaut) hit the ball last year. They hit the ball this year. You have to make pitches against them. Against a team like that, if you miss over the middle, they will hurt you.”

Laughlin was pressed into duty after the Warriors added to their list of wounded. Gabriella Patete is out indefinitely with an injured knee and Diemer is limited with an elbow injury. The duo had combined to start all 14 of the Warriors’ previous games.  

Starting catcher Mo Lynch was already out and has missed more than a week after having surgery on her nose, broken in a collision with a Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin player at the plate      

Conneaut jumped to a 3-0 advantage in the home half of the first on Angie Zappitelli’s three-run bomb over the right-center field fence. Simek put the Spartans up 5-0 in the second with a two-run double.

Saturday brought in a run with a perfectly executed suicide squeeze and Diemer scored when Lexi Zappitelli’s throw got away from Simek. Courtney DiDonato then started an odd sequence in which another run scored for the Warriors.

DiDonato hit a ground ball to Coccitto at short, who threw home to force Laughlin. Saturday had taken third on the play, leaving second base open. DiDonato took off for second and Simek threw to the bag in an attempt to get the out. DiDonato was safe and Saturday scored to cut the deficit to 5-3.

DiDonato later scored on a single by Taylor Rowe.     

Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.

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