JOHNSONBURG – The Johnsonburg Ramettes jumped out of the gate Tuesday with 12 runs to open up the 2012 softball season. Unfortunately for the home team, visiting Sheffield nearly doubled the Ramettes' offensive output in a 22-12 win at Knothole Area Recreational Park.
"We went over what strengths that we had [in the dugout after the game]," Johnsonburg head girls varsity softball coach Jenny Lewis said following the loss. "It is their first game but I wanted them to know that even though the scoreboard says we lost, we did do a lot of good things."
Johnsonburg had the first inning lead at 3-1 but let two big innings put a damper on their solid effort at the plate.
Down 1-0 with freshman Alexa Marciniak in the pitcher's circle, Johnsonburg got three runs in the home half of the first inning to take the lead
After Danie Jo Dwyer was hit by a pitch with one out, Kiana Myers and Katie Galsick stroked consecutive singles, the second of which plated Dwyer to tie the game at 1-all.
With two aboard, Lydia Hefright hit a tricky blooper to the shortstop who mishandled the ball, allowing Myers to cross the plate for a 2-1 lead. Tommi Wildnauer then tagged a single up the middle to bring in Hefright and take a 3-1 lead.
The advantage didn't last long, however, as Sheffield put two batters on from Marciniak walks; Anna Baldensperger then tapped a 2-run single to tie the game at 3-3 in the top of the second inning. Later in the inning, an error at home plate would allow Erin Fry to come home for a 1-run advantage. After Sami Pollock struck out looking, Rachel Maines unleashed a 3-run double to center to bring in Baldensperger, Maddie Fiscus, and Hannah Vile for a 7-3 lead to cap a 6-run second inning.
After the Ramettes were retired in order, Sheffield mustered only one run out of a bases loaded opportunity in the top half of the third inning. A double to deep center from Fry started the inning and Justine Barr was walked. After an infield fly to Dwyer, an error at third base allowed Fiscus to reach safely to load the bases. A shallow single from Vile would plate Fry but Barr was called out at third base on the play. After a walk to Pollock, Maines struck out swinging.
Dwyer struck out swinging to end the inning but reach safely on a passed ball to give the Ramettes an opportunity. A double from Myers, who finished 4-for-5 with 5 RBI and 4 runs scored, brought in Dwyer to cut the lead to 8-4. Hefright would later single to bring in Myers to cut the deficit to 8-5.
Marciniak started off strong in the top of the fourth inning with two straight groundouts before Fry and Barr cracked back-to-back singles with two outs. After a walk to Baldensperger to load the bases, Fiscus hit a 2-run single to plate Fry and Barr for a 5-run lead. Vile followed with a single to bring in Baldensperger for an 11-5 lead.
The Ramettes showed they were far from out of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning; a groundout from Dwyer would score Elena Solorio to cut the deficit to five runs. With Kassa Kocjancic aboard, Myers crushed a Fiscus offering over the left field fence for a 2-run home run to cut the lead to 11-8. After Galsick reached base on a walk, the only free pass from Fiscus all day, Hefright hit into a 1-3 groundout to end the inning.
Marciniak opened up the fifth inning with two consecutive groundouts before issuing free passes to Brooke Hoffman and Fry; undeterred, Marciniak regrouped to catch Barr in a 4-3 groundout to end the threat.
After the Ramettes went down in order in the bottom of the fifth inning, Sheffield took advantage of an error at third base to put Baldensperger aboard. After mound opponent Fiscus struck out swinging, Vile and Pollock both walked to load the bases with one out. Marciniak got Maines to roll into a 1-2 groundout to home plate to prevent any runs from coming in but the home team wasn't so lucky on the next at bat.
Needing an out to escape the inning unscathed, Marciniak issued a walk to Zarah Pratz to bring in Vile as Sheffield moved further ahead, 12-8.
A 2-run single from Hoffman brought in Pollock and Maines for a 14-8 lead, and Fry later knocked in Pratz on a single to thrust ahead, 15-8. Marciniak caught Barr looking to end the inning.
The resilient Johnsonburg bats continued to swing into the bottom of the sixth inning as they gave themselves a chance to press the issue down the stretch.
Marciniak reached base safely to lead off the inning on a high throw from shortstop; with one aboard, Kocjancic beat out an infield single but Dwyer struck out looking. With two runners on, the consistent Myers continued her career day with a double to left field to bring in Marciniak and Kocjancic to cut the lead to five runs again.
After Galsick reached on an error at second base, Hefright hit a popup to first base for the inning's second out. Wildnauer would later stroke a single to plate Myers to cut the deficit to 15-11 before Brianna Fabris was caught looking to end the inning.
Needing to shut down Sheffield's bats in the top half of the seventh inning, the Lady Wolverines instead sent 11 batters to the plate and secured the win with a 7-run outburst.
Baldensperger and Fiscus got on base thanks to Johnsonburg fielding errors and later scored after Vile tapped a long triple to straightaway centerfield for a 17-11 lead. Vile would later stay put on an infield single from Pollock was was off and running on the next at bat as a Maines single gave the Lady Wolverines a 7-run lead.
Pratz continued the bleeding with a 1-run single with no outs for a 20-11 lead; after an infield single from Hoffman, Fry lined out to centerfield for the first out of the inning. Barr would stroke a single to plate Pratz for a 21-11 lead but Barr was later caught in a rundown on the same play and was called out at first base. Baldensperger then delivered with Sheffield's third double of the game to bring home courtesy runner K. Curtis for a 22-11 lead. A 1-3 groundout from Fiscus would end the inning.
"We gave up two big innings but the team had a positive attitude the whole way through the game," coach Lewis said. "We were really far down but they didn't put their heads down. Even though we were hitting well, we had a lot of called third strikes and that wasn't good.
"It's something that we need to work on."
Solorio reached base on an error at shortstop in the home half of the seventh inning before Marciniak struck out swinging for the first out of the inning. Hoffman, in the catcher's position, tried to double off Solorio at third but Maines mishandled the throw as Solorio trotted home to cut the lead to 22-12. After Kocjancic beat out an infield single, Dwyer reached on another error at third base before Myers was finally turned away, this time on a high blooper to shortstop. A 6-3 groundout from Galsick ended the game.
"I was happy that we came out hitting early on," coach Lewis said.
The Ramettes tallied 12 runs on 11 hits, including two doubles and a home run from Myers. Kocjancic followed with three hits and scored twice while Wildnauer had two singles and brought in two runners.
"We have to cut down on the walks and even when [Marciniak] wasn't walking [batters], [Sheffield] was able to poke a few hits in there," coach Lewis said. "[Marciniak] is young and I wanted to leave her in there to get experience and confidence, especially when she wasn't walking [batters] later in the game."
Despite jitters in her first varsity outing, Marciniak went the distance and pitched a scoreless fifth inning; she held Sheffield to one run each in the first and third innings but was rattled in the 6-run second inning and 7-run seventh inning.
"[Marciniak] is a freshman and I know she was nervous, but she did well," coach Lewis said. "We made some good defensively plays and Kiana [Myers'] home run was great."
Johnsonburg is scheduled to play at Kane for a 4:15 p.m. game Thursday.