June 26, 2016

Partly sunny

Softball: Frustrated Blue Devils lose twice in eighth inning

LaGRANGE TWP. — It’s becoming a worn-out script for the Brunswick softball team: The Blue Devils hang around in a tight game, but ultimately lose by a run.

It happened again Saturday at the Prebis Memorial Tournament, when they played well against Brecksville and Nordonia only to lose in extra innings.

Against the state-ranked Bees, who are ranked eighth in Division I, it was a walk-off single with one out in the bottom of the eighth that led to a 4-3 loss. Against the Knights, it was another walk-off base hit with two outs in the eighth that handed Brunswick a 6-5 defeat.

Losses like those have become commonplace for Brunswick (7-6), which has fallen five times by a run. The Blue Devils’ only other loss came at the hands of Medina, and that was by two.

In each one, fans could make a strong case that Brunswick could have won.

“It’s getting really old,” said Blue Devils third baseman Sydney Sherry, who finished the afternoon with five hits and two RBIs. “It was old after the third game. I think we need people concentrating on hitting. We’ll go in the field and make errors and then get worked up about it. We need to pick it up and do it with the bats.”

The bats weren’t silent for Brunswick against Brecksville (15-2) and Nordonia (12-6), as the Blue Devils combined for 19 hits. The problem was Brunswick left 16 runners on base.

“Defensively, we’re not playing bad,” Blue Devils coach Julie Salzman said. “Our issue is we’re leaving way too many runners. We’re getting some decent hits, but then we get runners at two and three with nobody out or one out and we can’t move them.

“We’re not getting the key hits we need. We have kids standing at the plate looking at the first strike, looking at the second strike and then trying to fight back. By then, it’s too late.”

Things looked like they were going well for Brunswick against Brecksville, as the Blue Devils tied things up in the top of the seventh to extend the game.

Using international rules where a runner automatically starts on second in extra innings, the Blue Devils opened the eighth by reaching on an error, but Bailey Frederick (4-1) induced a fly ball, strikeout and groundout to end the threat.

Brecksville’s Nicole Best ended things in the bottom half of the frame with a single to score Perris Stevens.

Against Nordonia, Brunswick was playing with the lead in the eighth after Sherry singled to score a run and then scored herself on a throwing error to put the Blue Devils up 5-3.

The Knights scored twice quickly in the bottom of the frame before Marissa Rizzo sent the Blue Devils home losers with a two-out single to score Rachel Vickers.

It should be noted that Brunswick played most of the game against Nordonia without its two best hitters. Jess Calhoun, who is hitting .429, was selected for the Medina County Spring Leadership Ball and had to leave after the first game. Her sister Erin, who is batting .502, had to leave halfway through the game against the Knights.

“It’s time for me to go home and think through this and then talk to them (today),” Salzman said. “Somebody has to step up with the killer instinct. ‘How mad are you that you lost to Brecksville? Because I’m mad. Get mad, start hitting the ball.’ It hurt that we were missing our center fielder and No. 3 batter and that we lost our shortstop and No. 2 batter halfway through the game.”

The good news for the Blue Devils is the Calhouns will be back today and Wednesday for huge Northeast Ohio Conference games against North Royalton and Medina. Two wins will put Brunswick in at least a tie for the Valley Conference lead.

“I think it’s important for them to take a day,” Salzman said. “‘Do you hold on to these two losses? No, but you have to keep it in the back of your mind (today).

“You say, ‘We just got beat by two teams, it’s time for us to do the beating.’ Take it into (today) and Wednesday and say, ‘We’re tired of losing games by one. We’re tired of losing in extra innings. We’re tired of losing games period.’ Let’s see if they do it.”

Contact Brad Bournival at sports@medina-gazette.com.