Rams’ Graham freezes Falcons
The Rockford Rams varsity softball team won three battles last Thursday, March 25, but only two will show up on the won-lost record at the end of the season. Besides sweeping the Falcons of West Catholic in a season-opening doubleheader at Rockford’s home field, the Rams also had to withstand Mother Nature in a test of will and determination as temperatures plummeted to 40 degrees and the winds picked up to about 25 mph, making conditions nearly unbearable. But withstand they did, as the Rams won the games by scores of 4-0 and 14-0, and finally outlasted the elements, showing off great defense, timely hitting and aggressive base-running along the way.
A standout performance by junior pitcher Tricia Graham highlighted the day. After West Catholic’s leadoff hitter reached base on and error and advanced to third base with nobody out, Graham worked her magic in the clutch by striking out the next three batters in succession to escape the scoring threat. Only one more Falcon player reached base in game one, when Graham hit a batter with a pitch with one out in the sixth inning. And in the seventh inning, third baseman Leah Oliver snagged a hard one-hop ground ball to her glove side that looked to be headed into left field for a base hit, and subsequently threw out the batter at first base, preserving the no-hitter for Graham.
Offensively for the Rams in game one, Graham led the way with a pair of doubles, the first of which plated leadoff hitter and Cornerstone University-bound Lauren Pasciak all the way from first. The game was still tight until the fourth inning. With the Rams clinging to a 1-0 lead, catcher Karli Showers, who will play next year at Grand Rapids Community College, led off with a bunt single. Sophomore Kayla Tykosky followed with a walk, and the Rams played “small ball” to score three in the inning and supply some breathing room. A nice sacrifice bunt by junior second baseman Katie Chapin and a throwing error on the play led to a run, and another came home on a single by right fielder Morgan Ruchty.
It was more of the same in game two, as Graham again blanked the Falcons, this time on just two hits. The Rams exploded for nine hits and took advantage of several West Catholic errors in the first three innings.
The game was called due to the mercy rule after Graham struck out the side in the top of the fifth inning. Hitting stars for the Rams were Ruchty, with two more hits and two RBIs, and Showers, who scored three runs. Senior Haley Pattok launched a triple over the center fielder’s head that drove in a run in the second inning, and Oliver also provided two hits and three RBIs in a total team effort, which saw 10 different Rockford players score, including juniors Lexi Bettig, Molly O’Rourke and Alli Hickox.
On the day, Graham, in a total of 12 innings, struck out 23 batters, walked none and allowed just two hits. When one also considers the JV’s sweep of the Falcons by scores of 10-0 and 17-0, one thing is obvious: The weather might have been ice cold, but Rockford softball is off to a hot start!