Anthony Wayne cashed in on some offensive opportunities during a big four-run fifth inning Wednesday night, and freshman pitcher Kaitlyn Ray worked her way out of multiple jams to help the Generals take a 7-4 victory over visiting Napoleon.
The win lifts AW to 11-6 overall and 5-1 in NLL play heading into two crucial contests. AW has a league makeup game today at first-place Southview and then take on visiting second-place Springfield on Friday.
“We’re just peaking hitting right now,” said AW coach Carolyn Vogtsberger. “Actually we’re peaking at everything — pitching and defense too — which is great.
“The freshman pitcher [Ray] almost threw a shutout. At first [early in season], we were rough and had to get some things worked out. But now we’re ready to play. So, we’re excited. We feel like we’re ready to go at it and compete for this league.”
Pacing AW’s 10-hit attack Wednesday was junior first baseman Mac Rhodes, who was 3-for-4 with a double and three RBIs.
“We have some tough times hitting the ball every once in a while,” Rhodes said, “but when we get used to the pitching speed, and get on top of them, we get hits.
“Usually, once the top of the lineup starts hitting, the rest of us just follow and we get a big inning going.”
Rhodes’ double to the gap in right-center drove in courtesy runner Arika Zeigler with the first of the four fifth-inning runs after sophomore catcher Kaley Corcoran ignited the rally with a double to left.
Junior second baseman Lanie Nowicki followed Rhodes’ double with one of her own, over the head of Napoleon left fielder Danielle Moore. Rhodes, who waited to see if Moore would catch the ball, did not score from second on the hit, but that mattered little one out later when junior DP Cassie Kaptur blasted a three-run homer over the fence in right-center for a commanding 6-0 Anthony Wayne lead.
The Generals had taken a 1-0 lead in the first inning when junior leadoff hitter Haley Olvera singled, stole second, and scored on Rhodes’ single to center off Wildcats freshman pitcher Rachel Pilkington.
AW added a run in the fourth when junior right fielder Hayley Leach led off with a home run.
Meanwhile, Ray, who struck out 10 batters and allowed six hits, was busy working out of jams in five of her first six innings.
Ray stranded Napoleon runners on third base in the second, third, and fifth innings and escaped a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the sixth. In the fourth inning, AW recorded the final out after Ray had thrown a wild pitch on ball four to Madison Smith.
But Napoleon’s Taylor Murphy, who had doubled and advanced on an earlier wild pitch, was tagged out by Ray at home trying to score when Corcoran scrambled to get the ball in time to make a flip to the plate.
“That was disappointing,” Napoleon coach Joe Meyer said of his team leaving eight runners on base. “Not only did we not get the big hit, but we didn’t even make contact with the ball and put it in play.
Murphy did little else wrong in the game, going 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs in the game.
Those runs were part of four-run seventh inning for Napoleon (5-10, 1-5), when the Wildcats jumped on Generals reliever Nowicki. With just one out and the score 7-3, Ray went back to the circle to finish what she had started.
Inheriting runners on third after Murphy’s two-run double, Ray got Allison Lamming on a sacrifice fly to left, and fanned Smith for strikeout No. 10 to stifle the Wildcat rally and close the game.