by RANDY GREGORY
It has been an up-and-down season for the Rockford softball team in 2012. The season got off to a pretty solid start, but the Rams cooled recently as the level of opposition rose considerably. But the last few weeks have seen a bit of an uptick for the young Ram squad. Rockford began the week by pummeling Muskegon 13-0 and 18-3 in a pair of mercy rule league triumphs at Muskegon on Monday, May 21. Rockford then journeyed to Lowell for the Lowell Invitational on Wednesday, May 23. The Rams stumbled temporarily against Kenowa Hills in the semis before rallying for a 14-6 win in eight innings. But Rockford was completely stymied offensively by Lowell in the finals and lost a heartbreaking 1-0 decision.
“We are peaking at the right time,” said Rockford Coach Troy Brown. “We have gone from a very young team with little experience to still a young team that has played almost forty games together. We have a lot of games under our belt and I think we have a good chance to cap off the season on a nice little run.”
Ashley Mengyen got the win on the mound for Rockford in Monday’s opener against Muskegon. Mengyen went the first three innings, and Lyndsey Bettig came on to get the save by hurling the final two innings. Carmen Zeboor was the winner in the second contest with Bettig coming on to earn her second save.
Offensive highlights were scattered throughout the lineup. Lexie Brown was five for six with four runs batted in (RBIs), Rachel Feinauer was four for five with four RBIs, and Zeboor added a home run and five RBIs. Ali Erbes, Madilyn Genter and Karlee Tykosky all chipped in with triples to fuel the offense.
Rockford jumped out to a 4-0 lead against Kenowa Hills on Wednesday before the Knights rallied with four of their own to tie things up in the fifth. Brown made a diving catch of a suicide squeeze to temporarily save the game for Rockford in the seventh. The Rams erased all of the suspense as to the eventual outcome with a nine-run outburst in the top of the eighth inning. Kenowa Hills came up with a single run of their own in the bottom half of the inning, but it was far too little, far too late to make a difference as to the winner. Zeboor was the winning pitcher while allowing six hits and fanning seven in a complete game effort. Jessi Ramos was the big stick for Rockford with a four-for-four showing at the plate that included a triple. Tykosky had a double and a triple while contributing four RBIs, and Brown added a two-run homer.
Lowell and Rockford combined for a grand total of three hits in the title tilt. Unfortunately for the Rams all three of those hits belonged to Lowell, although the only run of the contest was unearned on a passed ball. Mengyen tossed a gem, but still suffered the loss for the Rams. Rockford was unable to garner a single base runner against Lowell’s Harvard-bound Morgan Groom. Groom had all four of her pitches working on her way to fanning 18 Rams in the perfect game effort.
The Rams now stand at 23-16 on the season and finished OK Red play at 7-7. Rockford hosts their own district this week and the pre-district opener on Tuesday (too late for press) was a clash between Kenowa Hills and Northview. On Saturday, June 2, the Rams will kick things off at 10 a.m. with the first semifinal against Greenville. The winner of Tuesday’s clash will then square off with Grand Rapids Union at 12:15 p.m. The winners of those two games will then meet afterward for the right to advance to regionals the following Saturday.