LEWIS CENTER – Buckeye Valley softball coach Mindy Eisnaugle has been telling her team to compete for seven innings.
The Barons took the first-year coach’s instructions to heart and exploded for eight runs in the sixth inning to break a 2-2 tie and run away with a 12-2 win at Olentangy Orange in non-league action Monday night.
Eisnaugle and the Barons worked short-handed last week, missing key players Olivia Schick, Cora Hollingsworth and Lexi Richardson among others.
With spring break in the rear-view mirror, Eisnaugle had most of her team back.
Schick was solid in her first outing back after spending the break on a cruise. The Ohio Dominican commit tossed a complete game and allowed two runs on seven hits and three walks. She struck out five to get the win.
“With her pitching – we got to put a different defense behind her,” Eisnaugle said. “Kids were in spots where they’re a little more comfortable. (Catcher) Lily (Irvine) called that whole game – for a freshman – that’s really, really good as well.”
“I practiced pretty hard and I try to throw my best game every, single game,” Schick said. “I feel like the week off was pretty relaxing. It just calmed all of my nerves. I was pretty nervous for the first game just because it’s my last year and I want to do the best that I can. But that week off really had me thinking about these next few games and what I want to do.”
Two runs scored off a ball Schick sent deep that the Pioneer right fielder just couldn’t track down to break a 2-2 tie with one out in the seventh.
Hollingsworth, who was cleared to play prior to Monday’s game after suffering an injury to her rotator cuff, lined a double to left to drive Schick home.
Two errors produced a couple of runs and Rylee George capped the rally with a two-run double to make it 10-2.
Anika Craft and Nina Peak had three hits apiece to lead the BV offense. Craft scored four runs and George and Ashlea Kehl each drove in a pair for the Barons (2-4).
“The bats weren’t working early and we just stuck with it and we started drilling it,” Eisnaugle said. “Our approach has been in the batter’s box this week. We’ve really been working in the cage. If something’s not working – we’re right on it.”
BV played three games short-handed last week, including a pair of league games.
“We’ve been talking about competing and competing for seven innings,” Eisnaugle said. “I feel like we’ve had that one inning where we just broke down. I’ve just been drilling it in their heads that we’ve gotta compete and complete the whole time.”
Orange was off for the week because of spring break.
Brenna Oliver was solid until the sixth. She set the side down in order in the second and fifth innings and faced the minimum in the fourth and even retired the first batter to open the sixth.
“We didn’t have a short memory,” Orange coach Mason Robinson said. “We let one thing spiral into another. We’ve got to put our foot down and get a little gritty and find a way to stop runs.”
Then, BV got hot. All told, Oliver gave up five runs, three earned, on eight hits and struck out five, but took the loss for the Pioneers (1-1).
“I think it just as easily could have gone the other way,” Robinson said. “We were in it up until the top of the sixth inning. It was just how the scale tipped and it didn’t tip our way.”
She also had a pair of doubles, the first of which led to a run. Teresa Hawk had two hits as well, and scored a run on a Morgan Powell single to tie the game 2-2 in the third.
“We’re a young team and we’re learning how to win,” Robinson said. “We’re learning how to mentally forget this and look at the positives. We attacked at the plate and didn’t have many strikeouts. We put the ball in play and made things happen that way.”
Next up, BV returns to MOAC play today when it hosts Clear Fork at 5:15 p.m. Orange hosts Big Walnut in non-league play Wednesday at 5:15 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.