July 24, 2014

Medina
Intermittent clouds
61°F

Softball: Buckeye seniors pick lineup packing plenty of punch

YORK TWP. — The four seniors on the Buckeye softball team made out the lineup card Wednesday afternoon, and two juniors and a sophomore made them look like geniuses.

Twelfth-graders Julia Sekerak, Hannah Hartley, Nikki Jackson and Kayla Kish were honored prior to a Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division game against Brookside, but juniors Chrissy Nichols and Kelsie Shultz and sophomore Maggie Calame stole the show in a 12-2 five-inning win.

Buckeye’s Maggie Calame slides safely into second base before Brookside’s Kylie Bishop can apply the tag in the second inning. Below, Buckeye’s Chrissy Nichols hits a two-run home run in the bottom of the first. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY JUDD SMERGLIA)

“They did a very good job with the lineup,” Bucks coach Howie Calame said after his team improved to 9-10, 6-5. “They weren’t selfish at all. They were very fair.”

The seniors were smart enough to bat junior designated player Nichols in the third spot, and she responded with two doubles, a home run and five runs batted in to raise her team-leading average to .440.

“I loved helping win it for my girls,” Nichols said. “They’re my best friends on the team.”

The seniors’ lineup also had junior right fielder Shultz hitting sixth, and she responded with two doubles and three RBIs after being so sick a day earlier that she couldn’t talk.

“We were hitting all the holes,” Shultz said. “They were perfect pitches. They were right there.”

Whether it was tremendous 12th-grade instinct or a little kissing up to the coach — or a bit of both — the seniors elected to start sophomore Maggie Calame (3-2), Howie’s daughter, in the circle. The left-hander responded by holding struggling Brookside (6-15, 1-10) to two runs on five hits while walking two and striking out five.

“I told them they could fill out the lineup, but if it was close I was going to manage like I always do and put all our regular players in the game,” Howie Calame said. “It was close for a while, but we hit in the (nine-run) fourth. It was nice to have them all get to have fun and to play the whole game.”

After Brookside’s Eryn Benfield tripled and scored in the top of the first, Nichols hit a two-run bomb, her second of the season, in the bottom half of the inning.

“I used (freshman) Rachel Shaw’s bat,” Nichols said. “I switched it up a little, but it helped me. She was telling me my bat sounded dead, so I used hers. It helped a lot.”

Nichols’ bat was alive all day against the Cardinals, as she hit a double and scored in the third to put the Bucks up 3-2, then added a three-run double in Buckeye’s nine-run fourth, when the Bucks sent 14 batters to the plate.

All the right-hander’s hits were hard line drives pulled between left-center and the left-field line off Brookside starter Alissa Weber (3-8), who was also presented with flowers in the pregame ceremony as the Cardinals’ lone senior.

“She has been our most consistent hitter all year,” Howie Calame said of Nichols. “Whether it’s a slower pitcher or a faster pitcher, she’s going to get the bat on the ball and hit it hard.”

The Bucks pretty much did that up and down the lineup against Weber, who gave up 11 earned runs, nine hits and three walks in four innings of work. She also hit three batters.

As for the seniors, leadoff hitter Sekerak had a single, was hit by a pitch, scored twice and drove in a run, while No. 9 hitter Kish doubled and scored. Hartley walked and scored out of the two-hole and No. 7 hitter Jackson put bat on the ball in all three trips to the plate, but didn’t get a hit.

At the other end of the spectrum, Shaw was hit by pitches on two occasions, but the ninth-grade cleanup hitter dished out some punishment as well. She pulled a ball so hard it hit teammate Chessa Grzincic in the on-deck circle, then nearly hit her again on the same at-bat. Later, the dead pull hitter nailed Nichols, who was on third, with a hard shot down the line that was just foul.

“That would be Shaw, our freshman,” Shultz said with a smile. “She swings pretty early. She will definitely nail you.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.