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Lady Vandals 0-2, St. Elmo 1-1 at Vandalia softball round-robin

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By Andrew Harner

VANDALIA – With neither team having played in more than a week due to a snowstorm, Vandalia and St. Elmo’s softball teams took to the fields on Saturday for a round-robin in Vandalia.

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The Lady Eagles used a pair of big innings to push past the Lady Vandals, 15-9, in the opening game, but Woodlawn thumped St. Elmo, 17-1, in the next game.

Woodlawn finished off a sweep in game three, beating Vandalia, 13-3.

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VANDALIA – The Lady Eagles showed off their speed and a little bit of power in the opening game of the Vandalia round-robin.

Scrapping for 11 infield hits and also hitting two RBI doubles, St. Elmo fended off a late comeback try by the hosts to win, 15-9.

“I was happy,” said St. Elmo coach Megan Burrus. “The first four innings, we played like we were supposed to play.”

Senior Savannah Feezel had a two-run double during a four-run second inning for St. Elmo, and junior Audriana Pruett powered an RBI double to left as part of a six-run fourth.

In those two innings, St. Elmo had seven of its infield hits, including three from freshman Sarah Maxey.

“That comes back to our speed,” Burrus said. “Right now, our first two in the lineup are freshmen, and they have a lot of pressure on them.

“But they are that fast, and if they put the ball in play, they have a chance to be safe.”

The inning was aided by three Vandalia errors, which all led directly to a run scoring.

Through the first four games, all losses, the Lady Vandals have averaged four errors.

“Once we start making routine plays, we can win a ballgame,” Buscher said. “Time and repetition will build confidence, and if they understand that can make the play, they will make it.

“If that doesn’t improve, it will be a long year.”

Down 13-2 going to the bottom of the fifth, Vandalia showed some resilience on the chilly morning, scoring three times in both of the fifth and sixth to extend the game to a full seven innings.

Senior Brittany Anspach hit a bases-loaded two-run single with two outs in the bottom of the fifth to give the Lady Vandals some extended life in the game.

St. Elmo countered with two runs in the top of the sixth to get back ahead by 10 runs and force Vandalia to continue scoring to keep the game going.

Senior Paige Ehrat reached on an error and junior Taylor Well followed with a single to open the inning, but the next two batters were retired.

Shelby Foster, a senior, drove the first pitch of her at-bat well over the center-field fence for a three-run homer to ensure that the game went seven innings.

“If she makes contact, she can hit it hard,” Buscher said. “Making good contact if what we want our girls to do.”

St. Elmo senior Samantha Austin pitched a complete game in the Lady Eagles’ first win of the season. She struck out five.

Senior Megan Maxey had the best day at the plate, extending her three-game hitting streak with a 4-for-5 effort, her first multi-hit game of the season. She scored four times and had two RBI.

“She sees the ball well,” Burrus said. “She’s played a lot of softball, and it’s natural for her.”

Box score
Saturday, March 30
St. Elmo 15
Vandaia 9
S: 2-4-0-6-1-2-0—15-18-5
V: 1-0-1-0-3-3-1—9-10-4
WP: S. Austin (1-1); 7 IP, 5 K, 9 R, 10 H, 8 BB
LP: Abby Dugan (0-3); 4 IP, 3 K, 12 R, 15 H, 1 BB, 1 HP
Lady Eagles: M. Maxey, 4-for-5, 2 RBI, 4 runs, SB; Pruett, 3-for-4, 2B, RBI, run; S. Maxey, 3-for-5, RBI, 2 runs; Krystyn Fitch, 2-for-3, 2 runs, SB, BB, HP; S. Austin, 2-for-4; Feezel, 1-for-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Baylee Scholes, 1-for-4, run; Candace Crum, 1-for-1, RBI, run, SB; Tiffany Austin, 1-for-2; Danie Austin, RBI; Darby Moss, BB, 3 runs.
Record: 1-2
Lady Vandals: Foster, 2-for-4, HR, 3 RBI, 2 runs; Amber Bruno, 2-for-4, RBI, run. SB, BB; Kadi Metzger, 2-for-3, RBI, run, BB; Anspach, 1-for-4, 2 RBI; Emilie Britt, 1-for-2, run, SB, 2 BB; Well, 1-for-3, run, BB; Morgan Whightsil, 1-for-5, run; Austyn Krueger, RBI, run, 2 BB; Paige Ehrat, run, BB.
Record: 0-4

***

VANDALIA – Though Woodlawn had to wait longer than expected to start play in its first game of the Vandalia round robin, the Lady Cardinals wasted no time getting started on offense.

Having to warm up twice after Vandalia refused to be run-ruled in the event’s opening game on Saturday, Woodlawn scored 10 times in the top of the first inning against St. Elmo on the way to a 17-1 victory.

Six of those runs scored with two outs, as Woodlawn pounded out seven hits, took three free passes and advanced on two St. Elmo errors.

The Lady Eagles got three infield hits in its first three at-bats of the game, but that produced just one run, with freshman Krystyn Fitch scoring on an error.

Otherwise, the game was dominated by Woodlawn, which scored three runs in the second, and two in both the third and fourth innings. All of the Lady Cardinals reached base, and all but one scored.

Box score
Saturday, March 30
Woodlawn 17
St. Elmo 1
W: 10-3-2-2-0—17-15-3
S: 1-0-0-0-0—1-5-3
WP: Ethridge; 5 IP, 4 K, 1 R, 5 H, 2 BB
LP: Baylee Scholes (0-2); 5 IP, 2 K, 17 R, 15 H, 6 BB, 3 HP
Lady Eagles: Fitch, 1-for-3, run, SB; Tiffany Austin, 1-for-2, 2B; Sarah Maxey, 1-for-2, BB; Megan Maxey, 1-for-2, sac bunt; Danie Austin, 1-for-2.
Record: 1-3

***

VANDALIA – Tied through the first 3½ innings, it looked like the Lady Vandals were going to have a shot at snapping their four-game losing streak.

A pitching change to start the bottom of the fourth inning didn’t play out as well as coach Brian Buscher had hoped, with Woodlawn adding seven runs in the inning on the way to a 13-3 victory in five innings.

“You make moves, and you hope they are the right moves and that they pay off,” Buscher said. “You live with them when they don’t.”

Buscher lifted junior starter Brandy Protz after three innings of work. She allowed three runs on five hits after also pitching three innings of relief in the first game of the round-robin.

Replacing her with sophomore Kelsey Swain, who was making her second appearance of the season, left Woodlawn with a big inning and Swain with the loss after going just one-third of an inning.

“They were starting to hit off of Brandy,” Buscher said, “and then Kelsey struggled a little bit.”

The big inning spoiled what had been an exciting game.

Senior Amber Bruno led off the top of the first with an infield single and promptly stole her third base of the season.

She scored on a double from senior Paige Ehrat, who scored when senior Shelby Foster rifled a single to left.

“Between games, I said, ‘It would be nice to see how we play with a lead,’” Buscher said.

Woodlawn countered with a run in the bottom of the first and two more in the third.

Senior Caitlin Alverson stroked a double to left to drive home senior Austyn Krueger in the top of the fourth to tie the game at three.

“That was big,” Buscher said. “We have girls who can hit, and Caitlin has had a couple key hits this year.”

After the big fourth inning, Woodlawn (3-3) added three more runs in the bottom of the fifth to earn a run-rule victory.

Vandalia fell to 0-5 on the season.

Box score
Woodlawn 13
Vandalia 3
V: 2-0-0-1-0—3-5-3
W: 1-0-2-7-3—13-9-1
WP: Paige Tufts; 5 IP, 3 K, 3 R, 5 H, 2 BB
LP: K. Swain (0-1); 1/3+ IP, 0 K, 4 R 0 H, 3 BB, 1 HP
Lady Vandals: Ehrat, 1-for-2, 2B, RBI, run; Alverson, 1-for-2, 2B, RBI; Bruno, 1-for-3, run, SB; Foster, 1-for-3, RBI; Morgan Whightsil, 1-for-2, SB, BB.
Record: 0-5