A day after losing the first game of the season, Springfield softball coach Rob Gwozdz approached the Northern Lakes League battle with Anthony Wayne with some apprehension.
Gwozda didn't quite know what to expect.
Sophomore slugger Hannah Girlie and starting pitcher Bre Buck did plenty to put any concerns to rest about suffering a second loss.
Girlie delivered the big offensive blow when she tagged a grand slam in the third inning off AW starter Logan Rupp to help guide the host Blue Devils to a 9-2 victory.
Buck, a junior, earned the decision after going the distance, allowing two runs on seven hits while fanning five.
The Blue Devils (10-1, 2-0 NLL) scored two runs in the first inning and two in the second to lead 4-0 before Girlie slammed her sixth homer of the season.
By then it became clear Springfield was on course to bouncing back from a 2-1 loss at Archbold.
“I was pleased the way we handled that,” Gwozdz said,.
Springfield took a 2-0 lead in the first inning without recording a hit. The Blue Devils’ first five batters reached base by either walks or a hit-by-pitch. Brianna Espino was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to give the Blue Devils a 1-0 lead. Kierra Hague followed Espino and was walked with the bases jammed to give Springfield a 2-0 lead.
The Blue Devils added two more runs in the second inning. Jacey Gray made it 3-0 when she scored on a wild pitch not long after leading off the inning with a walk. Espino upped the tally to 4-0 with a run-scoring single, the first Blue Devils run scored on a hit.
Rupp’s slow start on the mound didn't allow the Generals (4-4, 1-1) to build any momentum to seriously challenge the defending league champions.
“We had a tough start and it was hard to come back from,” AW coach Carolyn Vogtsberger said. “But my kids didn't quit.”
Buck kept AW from being shut out by scoring in the fourth and fifth innings. Hayley Leach tagged a run-scoring double in the fourth frame and Rupp hit a run-scoring sacrifice fly in the fifth to make it an 8-2 ballgame.
The Blue Devils added another run in the sixth. However, the real damage was done early. the biggest blow was Girlie's bases-clearing blast that sailed quickly over the centerfield wall.
“She's as good as advertised,” Gwozdz said of Girlie, who hit nine home runs as a freshman. “She's the whole package and she got every bit of that one.”
Girlie, who pulled Rupp's first pitch into foul territory during that particular at-bat, knew she'd hit her sixth homer of the year when she made contact on the second pitch.
“I was ready for it,” Girlie said. “I just tried to wait back on the pitch and then I can normally tell when they're out of here.”
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade.