One of the more intriguing and challenging aspects of high school sports is the yearly turnover of seniors and incoming of freshmen.
Certainly, coaching, hard work and dedication play a role in successful teams. It’s gets exciting when a group of individuals become a team in the deepest sense and for a season play extraordinarily.
Welcome to the Lady Comets’ 2016 season. They have attained a 10-0 season record as well as 10-0 in the Southwestern Conference.
The girls stayed focused even in the face of the serious challenge from Midview on Wednesday, when the Middies broke out in the top of the second inning for a 3-1 lead.
“That’s a credit to their bats. They came out swinging, hitting the ball top to bottom of the order,” said coach Lacey Reichert. “We got down three, we told the girls, ‘You have to be able to handle adversity. There’s no quitting on this team. They’ve got something special going on, and I’m not talking about wins and losses. I’m talking about the way they’re playing as a team; the way they handle themselves when they’re down. They just never quit.’”
“They’re the ones who are focused.”
Freshman Madison O’Berg had her sixth turn on the mound Wednesday. She pitched a ground out and a pair of strikeouts to set the tone for the match.
Madison Cruzado led off at the plate with a double. She came home on a sacrifice fly by Ashlee Dahman for an early 1-0 lead.
Midview roared back in the second inning with a single by Cassie Haight. With two outs, Gabby Shackelford doubled to bring Haight home.
Shackelford ran home on a double by Sara Lizeski, Kailey Evins singled to get two on base. A muffed throw gave Lizeski a chance to score, pulling Midview into the lead 3-1.
Amherst got three hits in the bottom of the second off the arm of Midview’s Sara Lowman but was unable to score. After three up, three down at the top of the third, the Comets began the drive back.
Cruzado singled and came home on a hit by Sarah Miller. Dahman walked but was forced out at second on a single by Madison Spataro, while Miller scooted home to tie the score at 3-3.
Another hitless inning for the Middies in the top of the fourth was followed by run through the batting order for the Comets.
Lauren Kachure started it off with a walk followed by a base hit by Kasey McGraw. Cruzado drew a walk to load the bases.
This brought Miller to the plate. She blasted a double to bring Kachure and McGraw home. Next, with two out, Ashley Cogdell slammed a double to clear the bases and a 7-3 score. Finally, Spataro hit a single for a RBI and a lead of 8-3.
Down but not out of the game Midview came back in the fifth when Hannah Taulbee drew a walk, stole second, and advanced to third on a single by Morgan Hamker. A double by pitcher Lowman brought Taulbee and Hamker home to chip at Amherst’s lead, 8-5.
The bottom of the fifth proved to be the nail in the coffin. McGraw doubled to go three-of-three at the plate. With one out Cruzado caught a pitch from relief pitcher Lauren Landers and sent it over the outfield fence. ”It was a belt high inside pitch and I figured I could drive that,” said Cruzado after the game.
The Middies were unable to get on base in the sixth and seventh. O’Berg ended the game as she started, with a pair of strikeouts. The 10-5 score remained unchanged and the Comets stayed perfect.
Asked how it felt to win twice against a talented Midview team, Sarah Miller commented, “Honestly, it’s great.”
“If we would have thought, ‘Oh, we beat them last time,’ they could have beaten because they are such a good team.”
The attitude of the team may have been expressed succinctly by Cruzado: “We play each game one at a time. So, we didn’t make anything more or anything less of it. We just came out with the same mentality we’ve had for the last nine games.”
Photos by Carl Sullenberger | Amherst News-Times Junior Madison Cruzado hits a double in the first inning in Wednesday’s game with Midview. Cruzado had a walk, single, double, and a two-run homer in the 10-5 win over the Middies.