GRANGER TWP. — It turns out going down to the land of “The Mouse” and getting your tails kicked pays dividends.
After a rough trip to Orlando, Fla., Cloverleaf’s softball team registered an 11-3 Suburban League road win over Highland on Tuesday.
Coming off a 1-4 showing at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, where the Colts faced two Kentucky teams ranked in the top 10 in the state, Cloverleaf looked strong in its Ohio debut.
The Colts (2-4, 1-0) not only hit well, they pitched decently and beat the Hornets for the first time in more than five years.
Not bad, considering the Colts opened the season with losses to Ballard (Ky.) and DuPont Manual (Ky.) by a combined 22 runs.
“At first, everyone was getting down and was like, ‘Why are we playing these teams when they’re just kicking our butts?’” Cloverleaf shortstop Hallee Smith said. “There was negative attitude, but Sierra (Pickett) and I were like, ‘Just because we’re doing poorly doesn’t mean we have to carry it on.’
“Then we talked about how the teams in our league wouldn’t be playing like the teams down there, so we thought, ‘Let’s use this to our advantage and work together.’ Coming into these games we were pumped to show what we’re actually made of. It was a really good feeling to come out here and win.”
Back in the Buckeye state and with a new attitude, Cloverleaf looked solid in a rather easy conference win over Highland (3-2, 1-1).
It came with big games from Smith (single, double, triple, 2 runs, RBI), KD Smith (double, run, 2 RBIs) and Shannon Mohney (double, 2 runs) and carried throughout the squad as the Colts battered Hornets pitching to the tune of 11 hits.
“Our players were ready to play coming back from Florida,” Cloverleaf coach John Carmigiano said. “They knew what they needed to do to be successful back at home.
“We knew all along it was going to be a process, but it would prepare us for the Suburban League. This was a great start to come out and beat a team we haven’t beaten in many years.”
It afforded Kelsen Lewarchick (1-3) the opportunity to relax in the circle and challenge hitters. While the right-hander’s line — 4 1/3 innings, three runs, three earned, five hits, a walk and a strikeout — wasn’t earth-shattering, she left in the bottom of the fifth inning with her squad up four.
“When I have everyone hitting and everyone is positive and there’s no negative attitude, it’s a lot easier for me to go out there and give it my all,” she said.
Pickett was credited with an unconventional save in 2 2/3 innings of relief, giving up no runs and two hits in a three-strikeout, one-walk performance.
Leegan Vorndran (1-1) picked up the loss, but didn’t have much help behind her. She gave up five hits, three walks and three runs (2 earned) in four innings.
Highland gave up five unearned runs thanks to four errors, leaving the team playing catch-up from the third inning on.
That knocked out solid performances at the plate from Amanda Schniegenberg (2 singles, double, run), Alex Chorba (double, run) and Kelley Cejer (single, double, run, RBI).
“Their hitting was really good, especially (Hallee Smith, KD Smith and Karissa Kelling),” Hornets coach Nick Spirtos said. “Our defense was horrible, but they hit the ball really well.”
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.