Blue Devils' must-win attitude keeps them in ICL title hunt.
BERLIN CENTER -- It might seem a bit premature to label a game this early in the season as a must-win. Nevertheless, that's exactly the attitude the Western Reserve High School softball team took into Wednesday's Inter-County League contest against rival Mineral Ridge.
After losing 1-0 to Lowellville on Monday, the Blue Devils wanted a win to keep pace in the ICL title race.
"We've been losing in the league, so we were definitely ready to play," pitcher Katie Harmon said. "This game was very important because another league loss would have really killed our momentum."
Harmon did more than her share to ensure that the Blue Devils delivered the victory they needed. The senior went 4-for-4 at the plate and pitched four strong innings to lead Western Reserve to an impressive 11-3 win.
The Blue Devils (8-3, 2-2 ICL) pounded out 14 hits, including five in a five-run fourth inning that broke the game open.
Harmon hits, and hit
Harmon, who tallied four singles and drove in a run, left the mound after four innings with an 8-2 lead after being hit by a line drive on her pitching hand. She finished the fourth inning and stayed in the batting lineup.
"It's pretty swollen and my finger is a little numb," she said. "But this was a big game and I'm not going to let a hurt pinky stop me from contributing."
Harmon wasn't the only Blue Devil knocking the ball around the yard. All but one batter in the lineup tallied a hit, including two each from Mackenzie Mowery (four RBIs) and Maci Mara (one RBI).
Big fourth inning
After Mineral Ridge scored two runs in the top of the fourth inning to pull within 3-2, Western Reserve sent nine hitters to the plate in the bottom half of the inning.
After a single by Tara Young, a sacrifice and a fielder's choice, the Blue Devils put together a big two-out rally with four hits.
Harmon started the outburst with an RBI single and Andrea Martin followed with a run-scoring single.
After Quinn McGammon reached on an error, Mowery belted a shot to left-center field that rolled all the way to the fence for an inside-the-park home run that gave Western Reserve a comfortable 8-2 advantage.
'We had to win this one'
"We're really hitting the ball well the last two nights," Western Reserve coach Joe Serensky said. "That's the key for us. We need to get the bat on the ball and get ahead in the game. Tonight we had some good baserunning and key hits at the right time.
"We were real upset about losing to Lowellville, so we knew we had to win this one to have a chance in the ICL," he added. "We just need to keep hitting the ball and we'll be in good shape."
Mineral Ridge (6-4, 2-2) played without starting pitcher Kaili Gehring, who sat out because of an illness. The Rams committed three errors and managed just five hits.
Emily Sheller collected two hits, including a triple that brought in two runs in the fourth inning. That shot got the Rams to within 3-2.
Brittany Sparks added a triple in the sixth and later scored on a throwing error.