The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

April 25, 2014

Heralds roll

Slow to start, St. John turns on jets in walloping HSA

ASHTABULA — It may have taken a little longer than coach Mike Houser would have liked, but the St. John softball team made a few crucial adjustments. It was those adjustments that led to a 12-2 victory over Horizon Science Academy on Thursday at Massucci Field.

Facing a pitcher who threw slower than they are used to facing, the Heralds (3-1, 2-0 in Lake Effect Conference) managed just one hit — Maddie Martino’s infield single — in their first two at-bats. The only other hitters to reach were Tiffany Lohrs on a dropped third strike and Vada Coughlin on a walk.

St. John, however, erupted for 8 hits and 12 runs over the next two innings.

“We decided to play on our level instead of down to theirs,” Houser said. “Our pitching came through and we started hitting the ball. It’s tough when you face a slower pitcher.

“We didn’t make too many mistakes and we did what we had to do.”

Leadoff batter Alicia Ngiraingas got the ball rolling with a 1-out walk. She stole second and went to on third when the throw got past the second baseman. The throw to third then went wide allowing Ngiraingas to scamper home for the Heralds’ first tally.

Reilly DeGeorge followed that performance with a triple to the gap in left-center. She scored on Martino’s second hit of the contest. Jordan Scott and Alivia Cimorelli also singled in the inning. Martino, Scott, Cimorelli and Coughlin, who had walked, all scored as the result of Horizon Science Academy miscues as St. John took a 6-2 advantage through 3.

“(DeGeorge’s triple) did open things up,” Houser said. “That and a little bit of aggressive baserunning. That helped. (Putting the ball in play) is all we can ask of ourselves. If you hit the ball hard, good things will happen.”

In all, 12 batters went to the plate in the inning.

“Some of our girls had never picked up a ball before they played with this team,” HSA co-coach Susan Kahler said. “We’re seeing a lot of improvement, but at the same time we’re frustrated with the way we’re losing.”

The outburst was enough to give Ngiraingas (2-1) the win in the circle. She struck out 10, walk no one and hit one in 4 innings of work. She allowed 2 runs, both unearned, on just one hit — a single to Nautika Ward in the third. Reilly DeGeorge struck out a pair and walked a pair in a scoreless fifth.

“Alicia had been struggling a little bit,” Houser said. “She came in confident and we backed her up. Reilly has done a very good job the last 2 games for us.”

“Like I said before, some of the girls had never picked up a ball, bat or glove,” Kahler said. “We don’t have a pitcher who can replicate that same velocity.”

Martino led off the fourth with her third single and Scott followed with her second. Consecutive walks to Cimorelli and Coughlin brought home Martino. Taryn Siemers reached on an error to plate Scott and Ngiraingas’ single and a pair of errors on the play cleared the bases for an 11-2 lead. Ngiraingas then stole home after getting herself into a rundown for the Heralds’ final run.

“It was patience,” Houser said. “They were waiting on it and trusting their hands.”

Things didn’t start off so well for St. John.

Mariangeli Delgado was hit by a pitch, took second on a wild pitch and scored when the throw sailed into center field and Horizon Science Academy (0-2, 0-2) held a 1-0 lead.

“It’s a good motivator to get on top as quickly as possible,” Kahler said.

In the third, Massandje Boduo reached on an error and scored on Wards single back through the middle and the Dragons led, 2-0.           

Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.

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