By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
Geneva pitcher Kristen Schupska had waited a long time to get her first start of the season. That doesn’t mean she wasn’t ready for it.
Schupska twirled a two-hitter as the Eagles bested Lakeside, 11-1, in Premier Athletic Conference play Monday at Geneva.
“Yeah, it was worth (the wait),” Schupska said. “It was nice to finally get to pitch. It was my first game pitching, so I wanted to do really good.
“We won, so I guess I did pretty good.”
Schupska (1-0) fanned eight, walked one and hit one in the six-inning game.
“I was just focused,” Schupska said. “Everyone was cheering and I was in a good mood. At the start, we got up and got some runs and everyone was really happy. I was really happy with it. It was a good day.
“My horseshoe and fastballs were right on the corners. I was right where I wanted to be.”
“We were trying to move it around the zone,” Geneva coach Eleshia Pitcher said. “She did a good job hitting her spots. She was throwing hard, too.
“When she’s hitting her spots, we can let the defense know where the ball is coming and they can be on their toes.”
“We swung at a lot of pitches out of the zone,” Lakeside coach Kerri Weir said. “We didn’t seem focused at all. We didn’t have a good night at the plate.”
Geneva (5-1, 3-0) netted eight runs on just three hits in the home half of the fourth to break open a 2-1 game after Lakeside starter Brianna Leonard (1-8), who took the loss, left with a pulled muscle.
“We weren’t being patient at the plate at all,” Eleshia Pitcher said. “Bri was doing a good job moving the ball around the zone.
“I finally convinced them to be patient and wait for their pitch. That’s when it started to get a little better.”
“With all the walks, passed balls and throwing the ball around like we did, you can score a lot of runs on a few hits,” Weir said. “Bri getting hurt in a 2-1 game didn’t help, either.”
Amy Pitcher and Kylie Hansen both walked to start the inning. Alyssa Donato singled to score Amy Pitcher. Hansen and Donato both scored on wild pitches and Sydney McCaleb walked with one out.
McCaleb moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Jamie Verno and continued on toward third base as the defense retired Verno. Verno was out at first, but McCaleb scored when the throw to third sailed high.
Nicole Grimmett and Taylor Stoltz both walked, Kaylin Hansen was hit by a pitch and Amy Pitcher walked.
Brandy Catanese, running for Grimett, scored on a wild pitch and Stoltz scored on Kylie Hansen’s single. Amy Pitcher and Kylie Hansen scored on Donato’s single to left-center for a 10-1 Geneva lead.
“(Leonard getting hurt) definitely brought us down,” Weir said. “That’s been our Achilles’ heel all year. We give up one big inning and we can’t overcome that.”
Kaylin Hansen and Amy Pitcher both walked in the sixth. Hansen moved to second, then to third before scoring on a succession of wild pitches.
Schupska set the tone in the top of the first when she struck out the side. The Eagles, in turn, scored right away.
Amy Pitcher led off with a single and went to third on Kylie Hansen’s single before scoring on a double by Becky Depp.
Stoltz, who had walked, later scored on a bunt single by Amy Pitcher for a 2-0 Eagles’ lead.
Every Geneva starter reached base in the contest and seven of them scored at least one run.
“That’s big,” Eleshia Pitcher said. “We always tell them we don’t want the home run. We want to go one base at a time. If they get on, we’ll get them around.
“We tell them all the time that base hits win games. Home runs are nice, but they don’t come around often enough to win games. We need everyone to get up and see the bases.”
Kayla Johnston singled and scored on a single by Kristin Keasling as the Dragons (1-8, 0-3) drew to within a run, 2-1, in the top of the third.
“We definitely got a little jump in our step after that,” Weir said. “The very next inning, Bri goes out with the injury and it was all downhill from there.”
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.