RICHFORD–The Richford Rockets plated five runs in the bottom of the 6th inning to secure a come from behind 9-8 victory over the Lake Region Rangers in girls fastpitch action Thursday.
An undermanned Ranger crew struck early with 2 runs in the first, 3 in the second and 3 more in the fourth inning to build an 8-4 lead after four innings of play.
Haley Kennedy, Sarah Burnham and Alyssa Royer each rapped singles to put LR up 2-1 after one inning. Corrina Cota’s 2-run triple highlighted the top half of the second inning, while nice running catches in the outfield by Steph Merchant and Chelsea Poginy provided the defensive sparkle in the bottom half of the second. Chelsey Thibeault came up with a key 2-run single in the 4th to build LR’s early advantage.
Richford pitcher Kristin Mercy then found her groove, retiring six in a row in shutting down the Ranger offense in both the 5th and 6th innings. “We need to learn to keep the hammer down. I don’t know if we got comfortable or what, but I felt we kind of let up after jumping out to that early lead,” said Ranger coach Matt Tinker.
With just four hits entering the decisive 6th inning, Richford reached LR hurler Michelle Thibeault for five hits in the 6th frame alone. The first two hits were little bloopers just out of the reach of the infield, and paired with a key error, helped the Rockets grab their first and only lead of the game at 9-8 entering the final inning.
In the top of the 7th, LR put their first two batters on, but could not get the clutch hit to bring home the tying run, as the third out was recorded with runners stranded at 2nd and 3rd.
“I doubt there’s a team in the league that can survive missing five starters. We had seven girls play today who were getting their first taste of varsity ball. But I don’t want to use that as an excuse, because our young ones played admirably, and that’s certainly not why we lost. Getting them this experience now will pay dividends for us later on. Our effort was there, but I don’t, in any way, want us to get comfortable with losing.
“The game hasn’t changed. It still comes down to those same three tenants: hitting, pitching, and defense. We out hit them, Michelle was the better pitcher today, but our defense let us down. We’ve got to get that worked out. It puts too much stress on our offense and our pitcher to give the opposition four outs per inning,” added Tinker.
Burnham led the Ranger offense with 3 hits, while Merchant, Kennedy, and Chelsey Thibeault chipped in a pair each. Michelle Thibeault went the distance on the mound, striking out 4, walking none, and giving up 9 hits.
The Rangers also fell to Enosburg on Saturday 9-6, dropping their record to 0-3.
The Rangers will be at home Thursday and Saturday this week as they host Danville and Winooski