June 26, 2016

Partly sunny

High school softball: Buckeye has field day against Black River

SULLIVAN TWP. — Sometimes coach Howie Calame knows his Buckeye softball team can be offensive.

Against Black River on Saturday, the Bucks were exactly that in a lightning-fast 14-2 Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division win.

It happened early, it happened often and, most importantly to Calame, it happened consistently. By the time the 75-minute game was over, Buckeye (8-11, 8-8) had battered Black River (7-16, 5-10) to the tune of 18 hits.

The numbers were better than that, as the Bucks saw all nine batters get a hit, eight notch at least one RBI or score at least one run and five register at least one extra-base hit or have a multihit day.

“We needed to get out and play again,” Calame said. “This helped. We had a little pent-up frustration and took it out on them a little bit. That’s a big thing. Once we get a couple of hits, we keep going.”

Buckeye didn’t get a couple hits, it got a bunch as Chrissy Nichols (2 singles, double, 4 RBIs, 3 runs), Nikki Koontz (3 singles, 2 RBIs, 3 runs), Kelsie Shultz (2 singles, double, RBI, run), Rachael Shaw (double, single, RBI, 2 runs), Chessa Grzincic (2 doubles, 2 RBIs) and Mary Spengler (double, RBI, run) made sure every at-bat meant something.

Some of it was just a team locked into everything Bailey Scheck (5 innings, 12 earned runs, 4 walks, 2 strikeouts) was putting on the plate, but a lot of it was a residual effect from a few games earlier in the week.

The Bucks lost two one-run games to Brookside in PAC play — 2-1 on Wednesday and 6-5 in a walk-off Friday — that left them with bad tastes in their mouths.

Unfortunately for Black River, it was the next team on the schedule.

“We didn’t have our head in the game (against Brookside),” Nichols said. “We went into the game with Black River with (focus). We take it real seriously.”

Buckeye blitzed the Pirates for three runs in the first and second inning, scored two a piece in the third and fourth and finished with a four-run, five-hit fifth.

That allowed Maggie Calame (4-2) to settle in and play pitch and catch with Grzincic. By the time it was over, the left-hander twirled a five-hitter with one strikeout in a very relaxed win.

“I trust my team to back me up, especially when we have the lead with our bats,” she said. “I just put it in there and see what my defense could do.”

As fate would have it, the Bucks have Brookside at home Thursday in a LaGrange Division II Sectional opener.

The adage in softball is it’s always hard to beat a team three times in a season. That’s what the Bucks are hoping comes true once again.

“This should push us to not only beat Brookside, but beat them good and keep going in the tournament,” Maggie Calame said. “We should beat Brookside and then Vermilion (in a sectional final) and keep going strong.”

On the flip side, Black River slides into the Creston Division III District with three losses in its last four games.

There have been signature wins — the Pirates beat Firelands and Wellington this season — but stability has been an issue at times.

“I don’t think we throw any game away,” Black River coach Lauren Rogers said. “We always build off of it.

“There were good things done here. There’s things we need to improve on. We’re growing up. We’re getting the experience. I don’t think consistently we’re where we need to be.”

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