South Range came unglued in the fifth inning against the state's top-ranked Spartans.
By JOHN KOVACH
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
BOARDMAN -- When Boardman's bats went weak, the Spartans still found a way to win.
Perhaps that's one of the reasons why they are ranked No. 1 in Division I in the state high school softball poll.
Held in check for the first four innings by South Range's freshman pitcher, Skye Walley, Boardman capitalized on Raiders' mistakes in the fifth inning to break a 2-2 deadlock and rally for a 4-2 win at the Field of Dreams Thursday.
The Spartans (13-3) made the most of two errors, a wild pitch, a fielder's choice and a hit batter to combine for the two-run uprising, then used reliever Gina Rango, who came on in the sixth inning and retired the final six batters.
"What hurt us was we made some errors and mistakes. We took our self out with some mistakes," said coach Ray Thomas of South Range (12-5). "Just a combination of errors. We didn't do very well defensively in the bottom of the fifth inning."
Rango relieved Ashley DiDomenico (3-0), who allowed four hits over the first five innings and was credited with the win. Rango retired five of the six batters she faced on ground-outs.
Walley was relieved in the fifth by Jenn Toth after Boardman loaded the bases on an error, hit batsman and fielder's choice, and suffered her first loss after six wins.
She limited Boardman to just two doubles and Toth allowed no hits.
Good base running
"Their pitching may have had us frustrated at the beginning," said Boardman coach Bill Amero.
But, "We capitalized on our base running [in the fifth inning]. We had the right people on base at the right time when they had wild pitches, and that always helps. We utilized our speed and [were] aggressive on base."
Meagan Cunningham opened the fifth for Boardman by reaching first on an error, and went to second when pinch-hitter Laura Amero was hit by a pitch. Then Mary McCabe got to first on a fielder's choice to load the bases, knocking out Walley and bringing in Toth with the score still 2-2. Cunningham then came home on a wild pitch for the go-ahead run.
South Range took a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Toth singled and then scored on an error, and Jen Ridgeway singled home Amy Algeo.
Algeo also had a single in the third while Kelly James smacked a double in the fourth.
Spartans come back
Boardman rebounded in the first inning when McCabe doubled and then came home on an error. The Spartans added their second run in the third when McCabe reached base on an error, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a fielder's choice.
Cunningham also had a double for Boardman in the second inning, but that was the extent of the offense. However, the Spartans were hitting the ball.
"We were putting the ball in play. I felt confident we could come back," said Amero. "We had some key [hit balls] at the right times. The hitting was timely."
Amero said DiDomenico is gaining valuable experience on the mound and is maturing.
"Ashley is a freshman. She is going to be a great pitcher," said Amero. "She struggled at times and we stuck with her to give her the experience. She is a little inconsistent. It was the first time she fell behind in a game. It is part of the growing process."
Thomas said the pitching of Walley and Toth has been carrying South Range.
"Toth (6-4) is "our senior ace" and "will keep us in every game." And, "Skye will get better as she gets older. She's a freshman."