It turns out all Hammond needed was a little momentum.
After going winless through the opening two weeks of the season, the Golden Bears earned their second win in a 24-hour span on Wednesday by knocking off Long Reach on the road, 11-3.
Emily Speierman recorded a career-high 13 strikeouts in the pitcher’s circle and added four hits at the plate, while Keyuana Griffin added four hits of her own, as Hammond (2-5) picked up right where it left off after beating Wilde Lake, 20-2, on Tuesday.
“The girls were down after having dropped five games … and the energy level after the game (against Wilde Lake), you could see it really picked up,” Hammond coach Brad Speierman said. “I could see that it carried over into warm-ups today. The girls were really ready to play today.”
On a day where the Golden Bears finished with 16 hits, the team wasted little time getting going. The first three batters got on base, including a 2-RBI single by Griffin that quickly made it 2-0.
Then after Long Reach (3-3) responded with two runs of its own in the bottom half of the first, Hammond was right back at it in the second inning with another run. This time it was an RBI single by Speierman that drove in Becky Straub.
“That was big jumping right out there. In fact, we’ve only had one or two home games and I actually think our team has gotten more comfortable playing away because we get to bat first,” Brad Speierman said. “The top half of our line-up has been very productive.”
And while Long Reach hung tough early, tying the game once again in the third inning after Emily Forbus led off with a double and came around to score, Hammond never trailed at any point on the afternoon.
With her offense putting more runs on the board in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings, Speierman was able to pitch from in front and avoid feeling too much pressure.
“It’s really nice being able to relax out there. My team is really supportive and we got ahead early, which it made it really easy to go out there and focus on my spins,” Emily Speierman said.
Speierman didn’t allow a single hit in the fourth thru sixth innings and struck out five during that stretch. Then in the seventh, when Long Reach tried to mount a late rally with a walk by Stephanie Moy and a single by Isa Carunungan, Speierman buckled down to strike out the side and secure the eight-run win.
On the offensive side of the ball, Speierman reached base all five times in the lead-off spot. Behind her, Griffin delivered four hits in five at bats and even her one out was a line-drive to left.
“I just look to crush the ball and hit it as hard as I can,” Griffin said. “I wait until it gets to me, I swing and I go for it.”
While Hammond continually found the big hits in the big spots, including a pair of RBI hits by Emily Dowdall in the final three innings, Long Reach simply couldn’t sustain its early offense.
The Lightning left at least one runner on base in each of the final three innings without scoring a run. After winning three out of four games last week, Long Reach saw some bad habits creep back in against the Bears.
“We were definitely missing that big hit,” Long Reach coach Melissa Boardman said. “And, more than that, we put our heads down and that’s something that we did not do last week. I was hoping they would be able to see what a difference that made because we kept our heads up in all our games last week even when we were down and it made a huge difference.”
While Hammond still has a lot of ground to make up after its slow start to the season, the past two games have offered a glimpse of what the team is capable of when playing well.
“We started off the season rough, so these last couple days have been a big confidence boost,” Emily Speierman said. “I think that we are a good team, but having so many losses was definitely tough. So even though the game against Wilde Lake was very different from today, it was nice to have that win to build off of.
“I think every one has realized during these games that we can win and that’s important.”
Hammond 11, Long Reach 3