Knowing its opponent in SCC Hammonasset Division-rival Hand had recently won a string of low-scoring, one-run affairs, the Indians’ softball squad knew to earn a big win, it would take some hard drives at the dish.
The plan worked for the first three innings at home on April 17, as Guilford held a one-run lead before the Tigers scored nine unanswered tallies, started by a three-run homer, the rest of the way in a 13-5 Indians’ loss. Despite the defeat, the Guilford skipper was proud of his team’s production at the plate.
“We worked a lot on getting the ball in play during practice yesterday,” said Head Coach Steve Zajac. “We had some nice hits, which worked for us. But Hand was good today; you have to give them credit for being aggressive with the runs. Yet we have been working hard on hitting the ball, and we have some good team speed, so that helps us.”
Senior starting pitcher Francesca Zuppardi went the distance despite the loss, allowing five walks with a strikeout, but she had offensive help from senior catcher Gabie Lanouette (3-for-4, RBI) and junior third baseman Aimee Munck (2-for-3, RBI).
The Tigers (7-1; 3-0 in the SCC Hammonasset) jumped on the board first; as sophomore first baseman Mel Rennie hit a RBI double to bring senior outfielder Kate Boudreau home, and then junior third baseman Anna Curcio followed with a run-producing single to give Hand a 2-0 command before Guilford (2-6; 1-3 in the SCC Hammonasset) cut the deficit with a RBI single from Munck.
With one on and two down in the second, the Tigers struck some damage with a RBI ground-rule double from Boudreau before being brought home for a three-run edge by sophomore catcher Katie Omdahl. After a scoreless Guilford second and Hand third, the Indians created early problems by having the bags full with one out, leading to RBI singles on high Hand throws home from sophomore first baseman Marieke Page and senior outfielder Grace DeNegre, along with a walk issued to sophomore outfielder Allie Stephens to knot the score at four prior to a RBI fielder’s choice by Lanouette to grab Guilford the 5-4 edge, which would be the last tally allowed with senior pitcher Annie Horton in the circle.
“We knew going in that Annie was a good pitcher who moves the ball well and has a good curve,” said Zajac. “So we worked on trying to go to right field with those pitches, which we were able to do.”
For the fourth, Hand made it count with two down, as Curcio stepped up for her three-run blast to recapture the lead for Hand. Following a quiet inning-and-a-half for both sides, Curcio scored the eighth run for Hand from third on a wild throw in the sixth. Boudreau then made it 9-5 with an infield RBI base knock before Omdahl scored on a bases-loaded walk, which was followed by a RBI sacrifice fly by Rennie and a two-RBI single from freshman second baseman Sam Pavano.
The bottom half of the sixth and entire seventh frame went as quickly as they came with both clubs going down in order, as Hand took the game to stay unbeaten in the division.
Versus Hillhouse on April 15, Guilford grabbed its first division win of the year by a 20-6 decision. Freshman Ashley Ignatowski struck out eight to pick up her first varsity win. Stephens led the hitting attack, going 4-for-6 with a double, triple, and three runs scored, while sophomore shortstop Olivia Boudreau went 2-3 with a bases-loaded triple. Lanouette also had a big day for Guilford, getting two hits, three RBI, and three runs scored. The Indians had a 13-run third frame as the brunt of their offensive burst.
“Overall, I like the energy; I feel we have been improving each day since the first day of practice,” said Zajac on the season after eight games. “I am proud of what they are doing and the effort they are giving. I like the direction we are heading in, and we just need to build on it.”