Reservoir softball

Reservoir's softball team, seen here huddling together during a game earlier this spring, defeated Hammond to open the playoffs on Thursday. (File photo by Jen Rynda / May 10, 2013)

Reservoir picked the perfect time to play its best all-around game of the season.

Emily Wang pitched a complete-game shutout, allowing just three hits and striking out five, while the team’s offense came through in the clutch to help Reservoir earn a 7-0 victory over Hammond Thursday in the opening round of the 3A East region playoffs.

The Gators (8-12) had lost both meetings with the Golden Bears (13-6) during the regular season, but played like a team on a mission in the win-or-go-home game.

“Today is probably the best I’ve felt after a game all season … everyone stepped up,” Reservoir coach Julie Frisvold said. “All season we kept saying ‘we’re playing for May.’ Now that we’re here you can see that the girls aren’t ready for their season to end.”

In the early innings, Reservoir counted on Wang and the defense to keep things close while the team’s batters figured out Hammond pitcher Samantha Speierman.

Speierman, who struck out six batters on the afternoon in just over four innings of work, didn’t allow a run over the first three frames. Wang, though, matched her with zeros on the board during that span.

Then in the fourth, Reservoir finally broke through on a big 2-RBI hit down the line by Anna Bennett.

“It was nice to see the girls make adjustments in the box because Samantha came out throwing very hard and very well,” said Frisvold, who pointed to a big hit in the third inning by Sophia Sommerkamp (1-3, 2 runs) as the one that broke the ice.

Once Reservoir got the lead, they kept adding. The Gators added another run in the fifth inning — chasing Stephanie Speierman in the process.

Then Reservoir really broke things open in the sixth with four runs off relief pitcher Emily Speierman. Caroline Winand, who finished 2-4 with 2 RBI, delivered a key hit in that sixth inning.

The offensive surge was more than enough support for Wang, who never waivered from her own hot start to the game. Hammond’s only hits on the afternoon came from Samantha Speierman (double), Emily Speierman and Lauren Hutchison.

Wang has allowed two or less runs in five straight games now, a huge turnaround from the beginning of the year when her ERA was above 4.00 in the month of March. Frisvold says it was just a matter of the sophomore pitcher gaining confidence.

“I think naturally she may have felt some pressure because we were coming off winning the regional title last year … there was definitely an adjustment period in terms of getting her comfortable,” Frisvold said. “But’s she turned that corner and has that mindset now that she’s going to get it done. Her presence on the mound is huge for us.”

Reservoir advances into a regional quarterfinal game Monday on the road against second-seeded Stephen Decatur.

Reservoir 7, Hammond 0

            123 456 7        R-H-E

Ha       000 000 0        0-3-4

Re        000 214 x        7-6-1

Other scores:

3A East