It was the same old story for the Rockford Rams varsity softball team Monday afternoon, May 11, as they once again defeated the Jenison Wildcats by the score of 2-0.
This time, the Rams got it done in the standard seven innings, unlike the 13-inning marathon the teams engaged in earlier this season. Although the length of the game was different this time around, there were a number of similarities besides the obvious final tally. The game once again featured stellar pitching by Tricia Graham, some outstanding plays by the Ram defense, and a couple of big hits at key times to propel the Rams to the victory, which improved their OK Red record to 10-3 (22-5 overall), good for second place in the conference behind Hudsonville.
Graham, the Rams’ sophomore hurler, allowed just two hits and one walk while striking out seven Wildcat batters. The only serious threat she faced was in the fourth inning when Jenison got a two-out single for their first base runner of the game. After the next batter walked, Graham buckled down, got the next batter to strike out swinging to end the inning.
The Rams got on the board early in the contest thanks to another big hit by the Wildcat killer, centerfielder Lauren Pasciak. “LoLo,” who smacked the game-winning hit in the first meeting between the two teams, ripped a hard line drive toward center field, which eluded the Wildcat outfielder and made it all the way to the fence. The hit was ruled a triple, and Pasciak scored on a throwing error from the outfield to the cutoff.
The Rams clung on to the 1-0 lead for the majority of the afternoon. Junior catcher Karli Showers helped thwart a potential Jenison rally in the top of the sixth inning. With a fast runner already on second base with just one out, Showers made a spectacular diving catch of a fouled bunt attempt on the third-base side. Graham then calmly got the next batter to pop out to second baseman Taylor Sergent to end the inning.
The Rams gave themselves a little breathing room in the bottom of the sixth inning as Peyton Wells smacked a triple over the head of the right-fielder for a one-out triple. The next batter, senior third baseman Alex Fulbright, executed a perfect safety squeeze to score Wells from third and the final run of the game.
For the season, Graham is now 18-5 with an ERA of 0.83. She has struck out 280 batters while walking just 30 in over 151 innings pitched. Defensively, the Rams have committed 25 errors on the season compared to 68 by their opponents. Leading the charge offensively is Wells, the sophomore cleanup hitter. She leads the team in several categories, including batting average (0.383), RBIs (34), on-base percentage (0.457), and slugging percentage (0.630). Graham has also helped her own cause this year, providing power at the plate with nine extra-base hits, while Pasciak has eight extra-base hits. Senior shortstop and leadoff hitter Carly Shutich leads the team with 28 runs scored. Pasciak has scored 24 and right-fielder Morgan Ruchty has scored 23 times.
Rockford plays at East Kentwood on Wednesday, May 20. With a victory against the Falcons, the Rams can secure a second-place finish in the tough OK Red. Thursday, May 21, the team plays in the Mandy Tichelaar Tournament in Lowell. The following week, the Rams travel to Wayland to face the perennial power before beginning district tournament play on Saturday, May 30, at Greenville against Kenowa Hills.