By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP —
The Edgewood softball team has a little to say about persistence following a 9-7 comeback victory over visiting Conneaut on Monday.
Diminutive second baseman Taylor Rowe capped a five-run fifth that erased a 6-0 deficit with a single to plate the go-ahead run for the Warriors (11-14).
“(Earlier in the game,) she hits a one-hopper to the second baseman then a liner at the pitcher,” Edgewood coach Steve Cunha said. “She hit it hard three times. It’s been like that all year for her. She hits it hard, but right at people. But she keeps plugging away. I think this is her first full year as a slapper. She’s still learning, but she’s a quick learner.
“She’s got to hit that and she did it. She stayed on it and kept a straight line through the box. She took the outside pitch and hit it hard.”
Gia Saturday reached on an error to open the inning and Gabriella Patete walked. After a groundout, Ashten Noce doubled to score Saturday and Mo lynch doubled to score Haley Holden, running for Patete. Noce scored on a wild pitch and Lynch scored on an error as Mercedes Burns reached on a fielder’s choice.
“We all knew we had to have a big inning,”
Patete said. “We were pumped up for that. We all wanted this win.”
With two outs, Rowe singled to left to score Burns for a 7-6 Edgewood lead through five.
“Every time up, I think ‘Yes! Yes, I’m going to hit the ball,’” Rowe said. “When it’s a bad pitch, I say, ‘No!’ I do that so I can have confidence that I’ll hit all the time.
“I focus more (in that situation). I just try and do what I normally do. I was more confident (because the rest of the lineup was hitting in that inning).”
The Warriors took advantage of three Spartan errors in the sixth to add a pair of insurance runs.
“It was a tale of two games,” Conneaut coach Nick Armeni said. “We jumped on them early, but they did the same thing to us late. We just happened to make more errors.”
When the dust had settled, the Spartans had squandered a six-run advantage.
“We were so impatient,” Cunha said. “We were pulling off the ball, swinging through balls. The last three at-bats we stayed back, used the middle of the field. We were patient and hit strikes.
“Those last two runs were huge. If we don’t score those last two, we’re still playing.”
“They hit the ball,” Armeni said. “We couldn’t catch or throw. (Edgewood) gets the credit. They made the plays and we didn’t make them when it counted.”
Patete (9-7) fought for the complete-game victory despite falling behind big early.
“You just can’t give up,” she said. “You’ve got to keep believing. I had to learn the strike zone. It was different from others, but every umpire is different. I had to figure it out and use my defense.
“(Getting the lead) takes a lot of the pressure off. It makes me want to pitch even better.”
“Being down, 6-0, is hard,” Cunha said. “Give her a lot of credit. She’s thrown better games, but she battled. The first two innings she was up in the zone and she can’t live up. Very few pitchers can. When she makes pitches, we have to help by making plays behind her.”
Alyssa Chadwick took the loss in relief of starter Emily Lower in her first varsity action.
“Emily and Alyssa pitched well for us,” Armeni said. “I feel bad for them.”
Conneaut (12-6) jumped on the Warriors for three runs in the first.
After a one-out single from Lydia Coccitto, Lexi Zappitelli tripled into the right-field corner. Angie Zappitelli walked, putting runners at the corners. Angie Zappitelli attempted to steal second, drawing a throw. Lexi Zappitelli took off and scored when the throw home was misplayed.
Dani Heinonen singled and later scored on an Emily Lower single.
Angie Zappitelli, Lower and Tori Simek all singled home runs in the third to give Conneaut a 6-0 advantage in the top of the third.
“We were flat,” Cunha said. “I don’t know what it was. We weren’t very good for four innings. Fortunately, the last three, we played pretty decent.
“That’s a good team. There’s a reason they have the record they do. Their top five or six batters are as good as there is around.”
The damage could have been worse.
“We ran ourselves off the basepaths,” Armeni said. “We had four or five baserunning mistakes. That’s inexcusable.
“It helped a lot (that the Spartans were aggressive at the plate early in the game). We’ve been waiting for a game where our bats would break out. We hit the ball hard. When we did that, we couldn’t keep it going. Every time (we got something going), we made a dumb baserunning mistake.”
The Warriors started on the comeback trail in the fourth with Courtney DiDonato’s RBI single and Rowe’s walk with bases loaded.
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.