WESTFIELD TWP. — One play was not the difference in an 8-2 non-league loss, but it significantly altered momentum.
It happened to the Cloverleaf softball team (2-1) Monday, when a screaming shot up the middle from Hailey Eckelberry turned into an inning-ending force-out for Elyria Catholic (2-0).
That took the air out of the Colts and inflated the Panthers to new heights in the non-league game.
“That was a huge play in the game, because we lost a lot of momentum,” Cloverleaf coach John Carmigiano said. “When she hit it, I thought we had two runs immediately, and then the ball gets knocked perfectly and we get forced. It was a huge play for them in a game that was kind of sitting around waiting to be won.”
The play happened in the second inning with Cloverleaf down 2-1 but threatening.
Morgan Lilly opened with a base hit and was sacrificed to second. Kristen Sparks followed with a single, and Kelsey Fritts was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Stephanie Griffin (2-0) recorded the first of her four strikeouts to bring up Eckelberry. The Akron recruit rifled one that Griffin got a piece of.
Unfortunately for the Colts, the ball ricocheted right to second baseman Julia Allegreto, who stepped on second to end the inning.
“That was huge,” Eckelberry said. “I went up there, and I didn’t think bases were loaded. I went up there and thought I was hitting pretty good in the cage (before the game) and was feeling pretty well in warmups. I thought, ‘I’m going to hit this,’ and she just happened to make a lucky play, but we can’t depend on one play. We have to play the whole game like it’s that close. Everything has to be clean the whole time.”
The play catapulted Elyria Catholic to a monster third inning. Kaylie Griffin, Allegreto, Stephanie Griffin and Annika Bredel opened with singles to make the score 5-1, and the Panthers added a run on an error.
The scenario took about five minutes.
“What they did better than us was they played hungry,” Eckelberry said. “You could tell in the field they were playing more hungry. They were coming at balls. They were knocking things down if they got through. They were coming to at-bats trying to hit the first pitch. We were letting pitches come and weren’t swinging at good pitches. We weren’t controlling what we could control. They just took momentum and went with it. We couldn’t get it back.”
After getting out of the jam in the second, Stephanie Griffin locked in.
The junior gave up just a single by Lilly in the sixth. She walked two and gave up an unearned run over the last five innings.
“It’s tough to play from behind, and it seemed like today that was the position we were in,” Carmigiano said. “I thought that we battled and settled in and were holding them, but we couldn’t get anything going offensively today.
“(Griffin) got in front all day long, so it was putting our hitters in tough spots. She got ahead, and we were guessing late and it led to a lot of weakly hit balls. We just weren’t making solid contact today.”
Elyria Catholic 8, Cloverleaf 2
ELYRIA CATHOLIC 204 000 2 — 8 12 1
CLOVERLEAF 100 100 0 — 2 4 2
WP — Stephanie Griffin (2-0) 7 innings, earned run, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts. LP — Samantha Goode (2-1) 7 innings, 7 earned runs 2 walks, 5 strikeouts. Elyria Catholic (2-0) — Annika Bredel 2 singles, double, 2 RBIs, 2 runs; Kaylie Griffin 2 singles, RBI, 2 runs; Julia Allegretto single, double, RBI, run; S. Griffin 2 singles, RBI, run. Cloverleaf (2-1) — Hailey Eckelberry double, run; Morgan Lilly 2 singles.