It may not have been showing on the scoreboard, but Wilde Lake coach Tee Dronenburg felt her squad was vastly improved through the first five games this spring.
On Tuesday against Atholton, those positive strides finally translated into a victory.
Each member of the Wildecats’ starting line-up reached base at least once and freshman pitcher Veronica Goode did not allow an earned run, leading the way to a 12-3 Wilde Lake win.
“Our schedule started incredibly tough … so we talked a lot about simply trying to stick with these teams and give ourselves a chance to compete. And, while we didn’t win any of those games, we did show a lot of positives,” Dronenburg said. “When you are doing those little things consistently, something good is eventually going to happen.
“And today, sure enough, something good finally happened.”
The victory marks the most runs scored this season for Wilde Lake (1-5, 1-5) offensively and also the least runs the team has surrendered defensively.
Goode was the catalyst, striking out five and allowing just five hits in the circle. But she also had plenty of help defensively, with the infield group of Rachel Van Osdel, Brooke Webster, Jasper Killian and Kasey Baird — from first to third — all making big outs to overcome a handful of errors and erase the base runners that the Raiders did have.
Atholton (1-5, 1-5) never scored more than one run in a single inning and three times were retired in order.
On the flip side, Wilde Lake capitalized when it had offensive opportunities. The big innings came in the third, where the team sent 10 batters to the plate and scored four runs, and in the fifth, where the team tacked on another four runs.
“I think stringing all the pieces together this game was a really big confidence booster, especially as our first win,” said Van Osdel, who went 2-4 with a RBI. “I think that was really good motivation for the team, showing that all our skills are finally coming together and all the pieces are clicking.”
Other offensive standouts for the Wildecats were Webster (2-4, triple, 3 runs, RBI), Killian (triple, 2 runs), Goode (2-4, double, triple, 4 RBI), Lily Richards (2-3, RBI triple) and Izzy Cruz (1-1, 3 walks, 2 runs).
Atholton was ahead early, striking for a run in the top of the first inning when Riley Law got on base as the leadoff batter and came around to score after a stolen base and a couple wild pitches.
After Wilde Lake tied the game in the bottom of the first on a run by Webster, the Raiders went back ahead in the second when Haley Simmerly reached on an error and came around to score on a couple more pitches that reached the backstop.
But once the Wildecats grabbed the momentum with its big third inning, making the score 5-2, Atholton struggled to find an answer. Wilde Lake had Goode and Richards each deliver RBI triples in that third frame.
By the time the Raiders scored again in the sixth inning — on a double by Sydney Rhodes and ensuing error — the game was well in hand.
“We’re trying to really focus on being able to let our mistakes go. We’ve shown that we can hit, we can play, so now it’s a matter of not letting go of that momentum when we have it,” Atholton coach Allyson O’Neill said. “Today we got off to a good start I thought, but once they had their big inning we never really got ourselves back into it.”
Juliet Nierle finished as the top hitter for the Raiders, going 2-3 with a double.
Looking ahead, Dronenburg hopes the positive result is a sign of things to come for her Wildecats.
“Today was big because we knew that Atholton was going to come in hungry, but we showed that we were just a little bit hungrier,” she said. “We were pumped up and motivated from the very beginning and I hope that energy continues right into the rest of the season.”
Wilde Lake (1-5, 1-5) — 12, Atholton (1-5, 1-5) — 3
……..123 456 7 R-H-E
A…...110 001 0 3-5-3
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WL....104 142 x 12-10-3