Long Reach sophomore outfileder Stephanie Moy talks about the Lightening's win over Hammond in a softball game on Friday, April 17. (Brent Kennedy, Baltimore Sun Media Group)
Long Reach may have been in a four-run hole early in its road game against Hammond on Friday, but there was certainly no panic in the Lightning dugout.
It was simply time to dig down and pull together.
Sparked by an offensive attack that featured hits for eight of the team's nine starters, Long Reach not only rallied, but did so in convincing fashion. Bolstered by a seven-run fourth inning, the Lightning retook the lead and never looked back en route to a 14-8 win that secured the team's second victory of the spring.
"Whenever we get down, we can't let it get to our heads and we've got to pick each other up," said sophomore Stephanie Moy, who had two hits at the plate and several running catches in center field to help maintain the lead late. "Once we get going, once we get our momentum there, then we just have to stay high and stay hyped."
Long Reach (2-6, 2-7) certainly rode the wave of momentum in its big fourth inning, as 12 batters came to the plate and there was one stretch where nine straight batters reached base safely. Rachel Jacavage and Alina Milauskas, who each finished the day with three hits, each produced big RBI in the inning.
Having retaken the lead, 11-7, Isa Carunungan did the rest in the pitcher's circle for the Lightning. She allowed just one run over the final five innings and finished with three strikeouts.
"To come back from being down by four, for us, is huge … and it was everyone chipping in," Long Reach coach Melissa Boardman said. "Isa pitched a great game as always, her defense was working — Rachel our freshman at shortstop and Stephanie Moy a sophomore in centerfield both were outstanding — and everybody hit. We literally got something out of everyone today."
On the other side, Hammond just ran out of steam. The Golden Bears had scored six times in the bottom of the first, after Long Reach had scored three in the top of the inning, and added another run in the second.
In Hammond's opening frame, 11 batters came to the plate and there were big hits from Bethany Hewitt (RBI double) and Julia Fato (RBI single). The hit for Fato was the first of her varsity career and, at the time, gave the Golden Bears their first lead.
In the second, Hewitt led off with a single and came around to score on a single by Sophie Baldwin.
But after Long Reach made its move in the middle innings, Hammond had a hard time finding another answer. The Golden Bears had just six hits in the final five innings after mustering five in the first two.
"First and fourth innings killed us. We overcame that first inning, but just couldn't overcome the fourth. And give Long Reach a lot of credit, they were hitting the ball really solid today," Hammond coach Brad Speierman said. "I was actually very happy with some of the defensive plays we made out there … Long Reach just found some holes. And offensively, we were missing three players that probably would have started but we still got some great production today.
"It's a little bit of a tough stretch here, but with four freshmen in the bottom of the line-up, I couldn't be happier with the effort."
On the day, Long Reach did a great job of stringing together hits. In the top of the first, Moy (double), Sam Samples and Milauskas all got hits in succession and eventually came around to score.
The fourth inning saw the string of nine straight batters reach safely and then in the fifth inning the Lightning had a stretch of five out of six batters smack singles to tack on another three runs.
By the end of the day, Carunungan (triple) was a part of the Long Reach group with three hits. There were also two hits apiece from Moy, Samples, Abby Bakunas and Ashley Sedlak.
Boardman said the production of the bottom of the line-up, particularly Sedlack in the ninth spot, made a major difference in terms of turning things over.
"Ashley produced like crazy today, some really big hits with two outs that were huge to extend innings," Boardman said. "But, really, everyone did a great job of getting on so that we could take advantage of the speed in our line-up."
While it was a loss for Hammond, there was great production at the bottom of its line-up as well. Freshman Jaymee Schoditsch, playing just her second varsity game, had two hits while hitting ninth.
Caroline Goyne, who came on in relief at pitcher, also had a strong day at the plate hitting second by going 2-4 with a double and two runs scored.
"We are trying to find ways to measure their improvement outside of wins and losses," Speierman said. "We are always picking things out and today there were lots of positives to pull from. It's very hard when you have a good group of athletes that are going to mature into good softball players, like we have, but they have to learn while getting knocked around a little.
"The good news is that I think most of them are starting to see the progress."