For five innings, Academy of Our Lady controlled its nondistrict contest at John Curtis, but the sixth inning made all the difference.
The Penguins held a two-run lead heading into the bottom of the frame, but the Patriots’ bats erupted as Curtis claimed a 12-2 win in six innings Wednesday afternoon.
“We just didn’t do what we normally do early,” Curtis coach Jeff Godfrey said about his team’s inability to score until the 12-run sixth. “We just waited and waited and waited. Luckily, our pitcher held in there, and our defense held in there for the most part. We got it done in the end, but I don’t know.”
Penguins freshman starter Katelyn Luebbert kept the Patriots (15-4) off-balance early, and the AOL offense scored single runs in the fourth and sixth.
The Penguins (14-5) took an early lead in the fourth as Breanne Breaux singled, stole second and scored on Michaela Banks’ two-out single to make it 1-0. The same scenario played out in the top of the sixth. After a leadoff walk and stolen base, Cailey Folse’s RBI single made it 2-0 for AOL.
The Patriots responded in a big way in the bottom of the frame.
Toni Rizzo opened the inning with single, followed by back-to-back doubles by Toni Hebert and Payton Adams. Lydia Linden’s RBI single made it 3-2, and Curtis continued the onslaught as Bri Neal’s infield single brought home three runs after an AOL throwing error.
“It took us awhile to warm up, but once we did, we were able to finish it off with a bang,” said Hebert, who went 3-for-4. “It was contagious. I think it was Rizzo up to bat first, and then I came next. And after that, we started popping them. They changed pitchers, but we just kept getting hits.”
Linden got the win, allowing two runs on three hits in six innings. She walked two, struck out two and went 2-for-3 at the plate with a double.
“I didn’t get nervous, because I knew my teammates were going to back me up,” Linden said. “I wanted to get groundballs. I knew we would pick it up offensively, and we did.”
Penguins coach Dawn Whimer said her team will learn from the disastrous sixth inning.
“We have a really young team,” she said. “Our freshman pitcher started the game and did a really good job keeping a great hitting team off-balance. Once they started getting a few hits off of her, their experience showed, and our growing pains showed. There were a lot of teaching moments today.”
Godfrey said he liked the way his team finished, but he’s hoping for a more complete performance in the future.
“It’s good and bad,” he said. “When you do stuff like this, sometimes with kids, they think that they can wait until the sixth inning to do it. My biggest concern is when we get to the playoffs, we’ll be on the bus back home if we do the same thing. We need to have a good mental mindset from the first pitch to the last pitch.”