By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports
With her Calvary Baptist Academy softball team in somewhat of a “hitting slump,” head coach Tiffany Wood has had her players put in some extra time and lots of hard work at the plate recently. On Tuesday night, she saw all of that hard work pay dividends.
And then some.
It took the Cavaliers a couple of innings to get started but, once they did, they put on an offensive display at Airline and took a 13-4 victory over the Lady Vikings in a non-district matchup.
“We’ve been working really hard on that (hitting) as a team,” said Wood. “Our 1-9 players really stepped up offensively and Baylee (Blackburn) came in to get a pinch-hit home run.”
Calvary, which plays in Class 1A, notched its fifth victory this season over Class 5A teams. The Cavs are now 18-11 overall and will host defending Class 2A state champion Many on Thursday.
Playing in its final home regular-season game, Airline dropped to 17-9 overall. Next up for the Lady Vikings is a three-game tournament on the road against Grant, Notre Dame, and Buckeye.
Once the Cavs’ bats got going Tuesday night it was, as Wood said, an offensive display straight through the lineup.
Trailing 4-1 in the top of the fourth inning, Calvary batted around and put up seven runs with an RBI double from Elena Franks, a single by DJ Lynch, a two-run home run from Ramsey Walker, and a three-run home run from Kelsey Coburn. There were also singles from Carlie Guile, Tavia Leadon, and Mary Grace Woodle in addition to one walk and one hit batter. By the time Mallory Carver popped out to end the inning, Calvary had taken an 8-4 advantage.
Jina Baffuto scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the first inning to give Airline the early edge. Lynch put Calvary on the board with a leadoff home run in the top of the third to even the score. Airline moved up 4-1 on Paige Marshall’s three-run triple in the bottom half. With a strong performance from Cavs’ pitcher Kynzee Anderson, the Lady Vikings were held scoreless the rest of the game.
Walker knocked in two more runs on a double to the centerfield wall in the top of the fifth to put Calvary up 10-4. The Cavs added Blackburn’s two-run blast in the top of the sixth and notched one more in the top of the seventh on an error.
“At first, I had a rough start,” said Leadon, who struck out in her first two at-bats. “I had to take a breather. By my third time up, coach just told me to be mentally tough, mentally strong.”
The Calvary third baseman responded with a single and run in the third inning, a two-run double in the fourth and a double in the fifth. Leadon finished 3-for-5 with two RBIs.
Coburn, the Cavs’ centerfielder, used some in-game adjustments at the plate to get her on track.
“I’ve been in a slump,” said Coburn, “but I made some adjustments to help get my hands through the ball.”
Those adjustments led to her three-run home run in the game-changing fourth inning.
If Tuesday night is any indication, all the hard work at the plate is definitely paying off for Calvary.
“It took us a little while,” said Wood, “but yeah, I’d say it worked.”
Photo by JOHN PENROD