WHEELING - While pitching and hitting are the key to most softball games, Saturday's Barnesville-Linsly game was won along the basepaths.
Barnesville stole 10 bases, constantly putting runners in scoring position, while Linsly had four runners gunned out in between the bags. Add that to solid pitching and a 4-for-4 game at the plate for Shamrocks pitcher Lane Hanlon and it turned into a 14-3 Barnesville victory Saturday in the first game of a doubleheader at Holloway Field.
''We hit the ball pretty well and Lane pitched a really good game,'' Barnesville coach Matt Johnson said. ''We fielded the ball fairly well and that has been an issue with us this year. I was happy with the kids.
Linsly’s Ava Tennant, middle, is tagged out by Barnesville’s Marrissa Burga, left, as the Shamrocks’ Sydney Bruce looks on Saturday.
Photo by Josh Strope
''We have a lot of speed and if we get them on, we are going to hit and run, we are going to steal. We like to put the pressure on defenses. One-through-nine we have pretty good team speed.''
That made things hard on Linsly catcher Danielle Muster. The sophomore played well and made some good throws, but for someone just learning the position, Barnesville (5-10) at times made it look easy.
''She had never caught before three weeks ago,'' Linsly coach Darryl Crews said. ''Our starting catcher (Peyton Coss) had to have surgery. She stepped up and said she had done it. I am proud of her and respect her for being a team player and doing something she didn't know how to do.''
Hanlon, who struck out three in a complete-game victory, earned the first Barnesville hit when she ripped a double to the center-field wall. She came around on a single by Becky Burkhart and the Shamrocks were off and running.
Burkhart scored on a single by Shaylynn Giesey to go in front 2-0.
In Hanlon's second at-bat, her single in the second inning doubled the Shamrocks lead, scoring Hunter Weiss and Carolyn Blatter.
Linsly finally got on the board in the bottom of the third, cutting the lead in half with two runs as Madison Steinkirchner and losing pitcher Sarah Johnson each hit RBI singles. While finally denting the board was seen as a positive, it could have been much more.
All three Linsly outs in the inning came along the basepaths - Ava Tennant caught stealing at second (Barnesville catcher Carly Van Fossen also gunned her down in the first), Steinkirchner was caught trying to take home on a passed ball, and Katie Smith was tagged trying to go to third.
''We hurt ourselves,'' Crews said. ''We had girls trying to be aggressive, but they were at times where we shouldn't be aggressive. We want to be an aggressive team and their catcher, she shut us down more than anybody.''
Barnesville tacked on five runs in the fourth and fifth innings, batting around in the fifth to ease the pressure off Hanlon from the circle. She added another double and an RBI single. She also stole three bases.
Burkhart (single, double, three RBI), Giesey (two singles, two RBI), Marissa Burga (single, double, RBI), and Weiss (two singles, double, RBI) also had multi-hit games for the Shamrocks.
''We can hit the ball and our girls take a real good approach at the plate,'' Johnson said. ''I would like to see them be a little more patient sometimes, but they like to hit and it shows.
''We have had double-digit errors in some games. We feel if we can just come out and field the ball, we can beat a lot of teams because of the way we hit. We need to work on making the routine plays consistently.''
Julia Bird hit an RBI single in the fifth inning to complete the Cadets scoring. Emma Cecil added two doubles.
Linsly earned a measure of revenge in the nightcap with a 15-7 victory.
Bird hit two singles, a double and drove in five runs. Steinkirchner hit three singles and had two RBI. Sarah Johnson had a double, single, and two RBI and Cecil hit two singles and drove in two.
Hanlon finished her solid day with a single, double and four RBI for the Shamrocks.