The Olentangy Orange softball team reversed course in a 6-1 victory over former league rival Big Walnut Thursday in Lewis Center.
The win gave Pioneer coach Jenna Tullis her first career victory. Tullis, though, thought there were more important things at stake.
“(The win is) always bigger for them,” she said. “It’s all about the players and being able to get their confidence back.”
The Pioneers (1-1) – shut out by Central Crossing in the opener a day ago – got a big performance by senior pitcher Alex Nagy both in the circle and at the plate in Thursday’s non-league victory.
“I’m really glad we were able to come back after last night’s game,” Tullis said. “It’s all about confidence for them … getting that confidence back and feeling confidence in the box. Something like tonight’s win, where we’re able to produce some hits, especially from our top five, is amazing.”
Nagy laced a two-run double down the left field line to give the Pioneers the lead for good as a part of a four-run fifth inning.
“I had been working on the inside pitch and when I finally got it – it was just at the right time when the bases were loaded,” Nagy said.
Alex Ronk led off the fifth with a single and Katie Achevich followed with a walk. Marlo Robinson loaded the bases on a sharp grounder to shortstop Merideth Thomas, who’s throw to third was just late.
After the Nagy double, Alyssa Laisure and Raelynn Bishop each added to the lead with RBI groundouts.
Meanwhile, the senior pitcher let her defense do the work early. Nagy retired eight of the first 10 BW batters on groundouts, allowing a second-inning single by Stacey Walters.
“That tells us that Alex is hitting her spots,” Tullis said. “She’s a pitcher that will keep it low … she’s got a great changeup. A lot of teams can’t handle it … can’t adjust.”
Nagy went the distance in the circle for the Pioneers, allowing one earned on four hits and three walks and struck out four for the win.
Laisure had an RBI double in the third to give Orange the early lead and Brandt walked and scored on a passed ball for the final tally.
Walters pitched better for the Eagles than her run total suggests. She allowed just three hits and four walks and struck out five. She was charged with five earned runs over a complete-game six innings in the loss.
“Our No. 1 pitcher Alex (Thomas) is out (with an ankle injury),” Eagles coach Jeff Hatfield said. “Stacey’s done a nice job and, tonight, even though she had a few walks, she battled back in the count and, I thought, did a really good job.”
Jocelyn Lucas led the Eagles (1-1) at the plate with two hits, including a game-tying two-out RBI single in the fifth for BW’s only run.
Walters reached base all three times up on a hit and two walks in a game that was a reversal of fortune for the BW team as well. The Eagles pounded out 14 hits in a 9-5 win over Kilbourne Wednesday.
“We played really well last night against a good Kilbourne team and we came out here and we were flat,” Hatfield said. “We just couldn’t string hits together.
Next up, BW hosts Watkins Memorial today at 5 p.m. Orange plays a tri-way at Groveport-Madison Saturday. The Pioneers open with Westland at 1 p.m. before taking on the Cruisers in the finale.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.