Solid hitting delivers win for Wildcats

MIDDLEBURG – In terms of statistics, Midd-West and Greenwood had similar games pitching-wise and on the field for Monday’s non-league contest.

Greenwood’s freshman hurler Brooke Louden continued to improve her varsity game while Midd-West’s Adrianne Gesselman struck out nine to keep her Mustangs in the contest – and on the field each team ended with just one error. But, one crucial third element proved to be the major difference in the game: the Wildcats outhit the Mustangs 11-4 for the 7-1 win.

“I didn’t think we played bad. Tonight we had decent pitching, decent fielding, but our hitting just wasn’t there. And that’s kind of been our problem all year – the three facets of the game aren’t there. We don’t put them all together,” Midd-West coach Pete Voss said.

However, if his young team had trouble putting the bat to the ball, Greenwood did not.

The Wildcats struck early, plating three runs in their three-hit first inning, and had at least one hit in every other inning but the fourth as they continuously put offensive pressure on the Mustangs throughout the game.

However, the swing inning of the game was in the fifth, when after a three-inning scoring drought, the Wildcats erased Midd-West’s one run from the fourth and added another one when an RBI from Miranda Gutshall plus a hit batter with the bases loaded gave Greenwood a 5-1 lead.

Greenwood had previously taken a 3-0 lead after Chelsea Hicks knocked one off the end of the bat with the bases loaded – a hit which was essentially a bunt – between third base and Gesselman to score Katie Osborne from third, then Rachel Stoup followed up in the next at bat with a two-RBI single to centerfield to bring in Amy Heggenstaller and Louden. Then Greenwood came through in the fifth to put the game away.

“It’s one or two innings that each team has success against us. Tonight it was the first and the fifth. So it seems like there’s one or two innings a game that we’re maybe not ready, maybe lose a little bit of focus,” Voss said, and that’s exactly what happened to the Mustangs in the fifth.

Midd-West started the inning well when Brittany Fleisher flew out to center field for the first out, but the wheels started to fall off when a Greenwood hit plus two consecutive walks by Gesselman and a hit batter proved to be the Mustangs’ downfall.

In that interval Gesselman and company did manage to get the second out when Stroup batted into a force out at home with her 5-2 fielder’s choice, but Bryann Paden was hit in the next at bat and Miranda Gutshall had a shallow pop fly just out of reach for first baseman Alley Sharp for an RBI single to notch Greenwood’s two fifth-inning runs.

Greenwood scored its other two runs when back-to-back singles from Heggenstaller and Louden to lead off the sixth resulted in a Louden RBI and a line drive up the middle from Gutshall in the seventh brought home Stroup, who had lead off the inning with a double.

But if Greenwood was hitting the ball well, coach Troy Gantt said the fielding wasn’t quite as sharp as he would like to see.

“I didn’t think our defense was as sharp as it was Friday night (against East Juniata). And that’s something we’re working on. But it just didn’t look like we had the focus and the energy tonight that we had previously, and we need to bring that every night,” he said.

Some of the miscues Gantt may have referred to to included an error in the fifth and some mental lapses from the Wildcats while on base.

Midd-West’s one run was scored in the fourth, when Sara Shambach was brought home from third by a seeing-eye single over third base from Sharp.

Shambach had lead off with a single, was advanced to second by teammate Britt Cunningham then stole third on a wild pitch before Sharp brought her home.

Outside of the fourth, however, Greenwood freshman Louden kept the Mustangs at bay.

“I thought tonight she looked a little better. She looked a little more comfortable out there, and she had pretty good command of her pitches tonight,” Gantt said.

Midd-West (1-15) has two more games left in the season, including Wednesday’s game at Shamokin and Friday’s home game against Shikellamy.

Greenwood (6-10) has completed its last game before Wednesday’s deadline to enter the District 3 Class A tournament. Thursday the Wildcats will travel to Newport.