Sophomore Lindsay Aninao drove in two runs on a double and a single and flashed the leather at third to back Katelyn Wilhelm’s 13-strikeout performance to help the Olentangy Liberty softball team handle rival Olentangy Orange 7-0 Wednesday in Powell.
Kennedy Kashmiry led the Patriots with three hits and a couple of RBI, one of which came in a four-run sixth to blow it open.
“It was a good team win – a lot of people played well,” Patriots coach Bob Lee said.
Aninao, a converted catcher, was the proverbial vacuum cleaner at third. She handled everything hit her way, including a couple of putouts on a lineout and a popout, and assisted on five more put-outs snagging every bunt and grounder sent her way.
“It was a little bit of a transition at first, but I slowly got used to it,” Aninao said about the move.
“She knew she was going to be competing for a third base job, so she worked on it over the summer,” Lee said. “She’s improved a lot – just since the beginning of this year.”
Wilhelm didn’t have much need for her defense, especially late in the game. She retired 13 of her last 14 hitters and five of the last six on strikeouts.
“She’s a bulldog … she does a good job of competing,” Lee said.
She allowed four hits and a walk in the complete-game shutout to pick up the win in the circle for the Patriots (4-3, 1-0).
Liberty jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first after the first three batters reached. Kennedy Kashmiry singled, Marissa McPhail doubled and Lillee LaRosa walked to set up Arica Flaugher’s sacrifice fly.
Orange starter Brenna Oliver settled in afterward – setting down eight of the next nine batters.
Sydney Lane reached on an error to open the fourth and stole second to set up Aninao’s RBI double – a ball laced to the left field corner to make it 2-0.
“I took the first pitch, just to see what (Oliver) was throwing at me,” Aninao said. “It’s all (because of) my coaches’ help – keeping my hands inside the ball.”
Two batters later, Kashmiry lined a single to center to push the lead to three through four innings.
Liberty batted around in the sixth, which started with singles by Taylor Karlo and Sammy Leonhardt before Aninao singled in another run. Kashmiry and Kaitlyn Leary added RBI singles before a LaRosa RBI groundout capped the scoring.
Oliver took the loss for the Pioneers, allowing 11 hits and a walk over five innings and was charged with all seven runs, five earned. She had four strikeouts.
Marlo Robinson led the Pioneers with two hits (3-4, 0-1).
Both teams continue OCC-Buckeye play Thursday. Liberty travels to Westerville South and Orange hosts Westerville Central. Both games are scheduled for 5:15 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.