FAIRFAX–The Lake Region Lady Rangers opened their 2012 softball season much like they did in 2011. With snow still twirling around the air and temperatures straddling the 40-degree mark, the Rangers could not overcome first-game jitters, falling to perennial powerhouse Fairfax, 8-3.
Fairfax got things rolling in the first inning, pushing across four runs (three of which were unearned), as Lake Region generously assisted their hosts with four errors.
After working through their first inning nerves, LR settled down. With Michelle Thibeault on the mound and sister Chelsey behind the dish, the Ranger batterymates kept the potent Fairfax offense at bay while the LR offense slowly mounted a comeback.
Whitney Poginy and Sabrina Roberge (in her first Varsity game) smacked back-to-back hits to plate the first Ranger run to make it 5-1.
Trailing 6-1 entering the 5th, LR plated two more to close to within 6-3. Roberge led off with a walk, and Chelsey Thibeault drilled an 0-2 offering down the line for an RBI. Alyssa Royer sacrificed Thibeault over, before Steph Merchant sent a blistering missile at Fairfax third baseman Brooke Naylor, who made a spectacular stab to prevent further damage. After Kayla Royer worked a walk to put runners on the corners, she and Thibeault worked a double steal to make it 6-3. But Fairfax senior hurler Ruby Bushey squelched the LR uprising, and Fairfax would plate two more insurance runs in the final frame for the final 8-3 decision.
“Pre-game, the girls asked me what our goals for the game were, and I said ‘8 runs and solid defense. If that’s enough to win, great, if it’s not, so be it.’ Well, it turned out 8 runs and solid D was enough, it’s just that Fairfax did it instead of us. It was one of those games that was closer than the final score would indicate,” offered LR coach Matt Tinker.
“It’s too bad we couldn’t have worked through those first-game nerves early without giving up those four runs. That first inning was definitely our undoing today. I can’t say I’m happy with a loss, but we did do a lot of positive things out there today. Chelsey had two nice hits, Michelle threw well, and I can’t say enough about Sabrina Roberge... she played a sterling second base out there, never mind getting on base twice offensively. In fact, all the girls played well. Fairfax was just the better team today. We face them twice more this season, and we look forward to it. Ruby is a great pitcher, but we hit her. We had two girls absolutely tattoo the ball, just right at someone. And we must’ve had 4 or 5 balls that were squirrely little cue shots, which tells me that as fast as Ruby was, we were still out in front of her. So I’ll take that. They force us to bring our “A” game, and that’s what we want, we want to be tested.”
The Rangers host Blue Mountain Tuesday in a scrimmage at Lake Region, before returning to regular season action Thursday at Richford.
In JV action, the LR girls dropped a 5-inning contest 14-4. Haley Kennedy led the Ranger offense with a pair of hits and three stolen bases.