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Evergreen girls edge the Eagles

SOLON SPRINGS -- Coaches Brian Amys and Beth Block are trying to cobble together their softball teams as best they can early in the season. Amys, head coach of the Solon Springs Eagles, is working with a starting lineup that includes four sophomo...

Kylli Rajala
Solon Springs’ Kylli Rajala delivers a pitch during a recent game in Solon Springs. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

 

SOLON SPRINGS - Coaches Brian Amys and Beth Block are trying to cobble together their softball teams as best they can early in the season.

Amys, head coach of the Solon Springs Eagles, is working with a starting lineup that includes four sophomores and a freshman pitcher. Only one player returns in her same position from last year.

Block has only four upperclassmen on her roster, and one of them - junior pitcher Jacqueline Manor - is out with an injury. Just like the Eagles, the Northwood Evergreens have a freshman on the mound and a sophomore behind the plate in her first year catching.

“I think both teams are in very similar situations,” Amys said. “We’re young, we’re learning and we’re trying to find our fit.”

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In Tuesday’s nonconference game at Solon Springs, eight sophomores and four freshmen started for the Eagles and Evergreens.

The result was a game of sharp highs and lows, as the two teams combined for 21 hits - including an inside-the-park home run - but also committed a dozen errors.

“We had some really nice plays, and then we had some other plays,” said Block, smiling. “We’ll learn. You make mistakes and you hope they learn by them. That’s all you can ask.”

Solon Springs played with a lead early, but a seventh-inning, two-out run by Northwood gave the Evergreens an 8-7 victory.

In the first inning, Northwood was shut out and the Eagles used two hits, a fielder’s choice and a hit batsman to score a pair of runs.

Evergreen pitcher Cassidy Coons got the strikeout on the Eagles’ first at-bat, but on the second sophomore Nikki Orozco lofted a triple to right field. Taylor Blaylock was then hit by a pitch, and Orozco scored on Allison Bailey’s fielder’s choice. Blaylock came home on the next at-bat when Allison Androsky singled to deep right field.

The Evergreens answered with one run in the second and another in the third to tie the game. Billie Johnson scored in the second when she got on base with a single and advanced on three consecutive singles by Kenia Link, McKenzie Coons and Julia Manor. Abby Martin reached base on an error in the third and scored on Johnson’s double to center field.

In the top of the fourth, Northwood took its first lead of the game, but Solon Springs reclaimed a 4-3 lead with two runs in the bottom of the inning.

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The fifth inning began with an inside-the-park home run by Evergreen freshman Karlee Brown. Martin then doubled to left field, and Johnson brought her in with an RBI single. Two batters later M. Coons drove in another run with a groundout, and Annika Vaara’s bouncing single scored the final run of the inning.

Trailing 7-4, the Eagles led off the bottom of the fifth inning with double from Bailey. Back-to-back walks loaded the bases, and Solon Springs scored two runs after a dropped third strike and a throwing error. Lilly Nordskog brought in a third runner with her bunt single, and Morgan Anderson drew a walk to again load the bases for the Eagles with one out.

The Evergreens got out of the jam, however, when Johnson made the defensive play of the game. The sophomore caught a line drive to third base and stepped on the bag to complete an unassisted double-play.

“We had bases loaded, and the third baseman made a great play and got the double play,” Amys said. “If that ball is hit an inch further to the right of her glove, we score two, maybe three runs on that hit.”

Johnson’s double-play left the game tied at 7-7, and it remained that way heading into the top of the seventh.

In the final inning, the Evergreens began with a pop-up and strikeout, but Julia Manor kept Northwood in the game with a perfectly placed bunt single. Vaara then reached base on an error, and Manor sprinted home in the confusion.

“I told the girls that I was glad that they never seemed to give up,” Block said. “They continued to battle back. We got in that two-out situation and managed to score a run.”

Solon Springs had a chance to tie in the bottom of the inning after two dropped third strikes, but base-running errors and a groundout ended the game.

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Amys, despite the loss, was happy with the Eagles’ effort.

“I think we can gain a lot from this moving forward,” he said. “We still had too many errors … but we were just inches away from coming out with a win even with all the mistakes.”

  1. Coons earned the pitching win for Northwood with nine strikeouts and five walks in 4 1/3 innings. Kylli Rajala suffered the loss for Solon Springs with nine strikeouts and one walk in seven innings.

At the plate, Androsky and Nordskog both had two hits and an RBI apiece for Solon Springs. Orozco finished with a triple, single and two RBIs, while Bailey had a double, single and one RBI.
Johnson led the Evergreens, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Julia Manor, Brown and Vaara all had two hits and an RBI apiece.

 

Northwood............... 011... 140    1   -   7    8    7

Solon Springs           200       230       0          -         8          13         5

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