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Spartans end skid with win at Howland

Staff photo / Brian Yauger Boardman junior Dana Haus takes a cut at a pitch during Monday’s game at Howland. Haus had a hit and a run for the Spartans in their 12-2 win over the Tigers.

HOWLAND — After back-to-back losses to Champion and Green, it was defense and pitching that made the difference Monday for the Boardman Spartans as they snapped a two-game losing skid, putting up 12 runs to take down Howland, 12-2 in six innings.

“I thought we played really, really good defense,” Boardman coach Fred Mootz said. “Madison Lester pitched a great game today. We got the bats going and we had a couple of quick innings, which is great. We’ve struggled a little bit lately to put consistency with the bats, but overall I thought we played a pretty good game. … It basically comes down to defense and pitching and we did that today for sure.”

Lester, one of nine juniors on the roster, pitched a complete game for the Spartans, striking out eight.

She was able to keep the Tigers off balance, limiting Howland to four hits.

“I mean you know Howland has hit the ball all year, so I knew coming in it’s not a team you’re going to take lightly,” Mootz said. “They’re gonna swing the bats and Madison kept them off balance the entire game.”

Lester also helped set the pace for Boardman at the plate, leading the team with two hits. Nadia Rawhneh and Cassidy Bryan each knocked in two runs.

Twelve games into the season, while playing well, consistency is something that Mootz thinks is holding the team back from getting even more accomplished. A little more efficiency with the bats, and Mootz thinks the team is a match for anybody they face.

“We’re striding up, we’re starting to get there,” he said. “We’d like a little bit more consistency at the plate for us. I know it sounds crazy after we put up 12 runs, but ultimately we’ve got to hit the ball more solid and really more consistent. I think if we can do that with our pitching, we can beat anybody.”

The Spartans move to 8-4 on the year, but Mootz isn’t too worried about the team’s record. Provided Boardman can continue to play well against tough teams, the third-year coach is confident in what the team can achieve. The focus is all on preparing for the postseason.

“We got a tough schedule,” Mootz said. “We’ve played some tough teams like Walsh Jesuit, Louisville, Aurora, really good, solid teams, upper-echelon type teams. That’s what we wanted to do with this group, push them. Records don’t mean a lot. You want to play good against these types of teams so we’re ready for the tournament later at the end of the year.”

Staff photo / Brian Yauger Boardman pitcher Madison Lester fires a pitch early in Monday’s contest against Howland. Lester had eight strikeouts and two hits.

The underclassmen for Howland (6-6) set the tone at the plate with freshman Alyssa Massucci and sophomore Kayla Campbell each having two of the team’s four hits.

The Spartans strung together five runs in the fifth inning to go up 10-0, but Howland was able to close the gap with two runs by Jennifer Sindledecker and Bailee Beasom to keep the game from ending in the fifth.

“It just wasn’t our day today,” Tigers coach Nicole Wayt said. “We’ve just got to go back to the drawing board and come back tomorrow. It’s a new game and it’s a winnable game for us. We’ve just got to execute, we have to hit, we have to field, we have to throw, we have to regroup, and our girls are capable. I’m confident that they’ll come back tomorrow and play a good game.”

The teams meet up again tonight at Boardman High School. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.

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