The Rockford varsity softball team swept East Kentwood on Tuesday, May 4, by scores of 2-0 and 8-5, and then got swept by Jenison in a home doubleheader two days later. The result sees the Rams tied for third in the conference with Grandville with a record of 5-3. Hudsonville remains perfect in league play at 8-0. The Rams will travel to take on the Eagles in a crucial doubleheader on May 18.
At East Kentwood, Tricia Graham dominated the Falcons in game one, allowing just one hit, a two-out single in the first inning, while striking out 13 batters in the shutout. She was helped by some stellar defensive plays in the game, including a nice stop in the hole by sophomore shortstop Kayla Tykosky in the sixth inning, and a diving catch of a pop-up by freshman catcher Isabelle Mudgett for the first out in the seventh inning.
Offensively, the Rams only managed five hits, but two of them came in the first inning and put the Rams ahead quickly. Senior Lauren Pasciak led off the game with a line single up the middle. She was sacrificed to second base by junior Alli Hickox, and scored when Peyton Wells singled to right. Pasciak struck again in the fifth inning, when her long triple scored fellow senior Morgan Ruchty from first base following her two-out walk.
In game two, the Rams jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the first inning on the strength of five singles and a walk. They eventually increased the lead to 8-1 before things got interesting in the seventh, as East Kentwood had five consecutive batters reach base after the first out. They scored four runs to narrow the lead to three runs, and had the tying runs on base before Graham shut the door by striking out the final hitter and saving the win for Rockford.
Hitting stars in game two included Graham, who helped her own cause tremendously by collecting three hits including a long homerun to left-center in the fifth inning. Wells had four singles, and senior catcher Karli Showers had two hits and a walk. Other base hits came from Tykosky, Mudgett, Ruchty and Pasciak.
The Rams then hosted Jenison with great anticipation on Thursday, May 6. The twin bill with the Wildcats played a significant role in determining the OK Red standings. If the Rams could sweep the doubleheader, they would be in position to challenge Hudsonville for the conference championship. As it turned out, though, it was the Wildcats that swept in a disappointing afternoon in Rockford.
In game one, Graham and Jenison senior Kendra Thomas matched each other for four innings by shutting down the opposing offenses. In the fifth inning, after Graham had retired the first two batters, an error on a bunt opened the door for Jenison’s winning rally, in which they scored two unearned runs as a result of three errors. Even though the Rams loaded the bases with just one out in the seventh inning against Jenison reliever Kayla Lemke, the Wildcats’ defense made the final two plays on ground balls to end the game with a 2-0 decision.
The Rams seemed to suffer from the disappointment of game one as they fell behind 9-0 in the first three innings of game two of the doubleheader. Solid and timely hitting by Jenison and some more defensive lapses by the Rams turned the game into an early rout. The bats never came to life for the Rams as they stranded seven runners in the second game, but none of those runners advanced as far as third base. Ruchty had two hits for Rockford, while Wells and Tykosky had one each.
The team had to wait longer than expected to rebound from the tough day, as the Wayland Invitational and two games against Reeths-Puffer were canceled. The next opponent for Rockford is Grand Haven, as the Bucs came to Rockford on Wednesday, May 12 for a doubleheader. Watch the Squire for results.