YORK TWP. — No. 9 hitter Nicole Figueroa ignited a big third inning Tuesday, and Buckeye’s softball team applied lessons from 24 hours earlier to finish the job.
When the dust settled on a bases-loaded wild pitch in the fifth, Kylie Cooper scored the mercy-rule run that gave the Bucks an impressive 14-4 Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division victory over rebuilding Black River.
Over the last 5⅔ innings, Buckeye (10-8, 7-4) has outscored the Pirates (2-10, 2-9) 21-5. The Bucks plated seven runs in the seventh Monday in a 9-8 win.
“It’s nice being at home because we always have a little bit of an advantage,” Figueroa said.
“Honestly, when I went up there, we faced (Emma Stief on Monday), and I knew how she pitched. I knew I had to get a good hit and hopefully start something off.”
All nine batters had an extra-base hit or scored twice. Buckeye took control with a seven-run third after a single, four doubles, two walks and a hit batter against Stief (1-6), then approached run-rule status with two in the fourth.
The momentum-changing third began with an opposite-field double to right by Figueroa. Kaydee Clark tied the game at 2 with a double, Clare Mewhinney followed two batters later with a two-run double and Madison Ross blew open the score to 8-2 with a three-run double.
Alyssa Beckett (single, double, 2 runs), Makenzie Mesar (double, 2 runs), Courtney Keeler (single, 2 runs), Ariana Whitmer (single, 2 RBIs, 2 runs) and Kylie Cooper (double, 3 walks, 2 RBIs, 2 runs) also had standout moments for the 10-hit attack.
“It was a long inning. It was good. It was double after double,” Figueroa said. “It was a nice feeling to get a lead. We also had (Monday’s) game in mind that, each inning, we still had to keep pushing. We can’t take anything for granted.”
Black River, which started two freshmen and three sophomores, struggled with timing against Mewhinney’s arsenal of outside curveballs and low changeups but committed only two errors and gave itself a puncher’s chance by cutting its deficit to 8-4.
Taylor Hendershot went 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Abbie Graves and Kennedy Petruzzi ripped back-to-back doubles that gave the Pirates a short-lived 2-1 lead in the third.
“One of the things we are struggling with at the plate is they’re so far ahead of the ball,” first-year coach Jennifer Bradford said. “Their hips were out — they were (Monday) and last week against Lutheran West — and it’s something they have to be conscious of. They have to be more aggressive at the plate, and sometimes they’re not concentrating on seeing the ball.
“The positives are they don’t hang their heads. That’s something we’ve been working on the last couple of weeks, making sure we stay prideful and making sure they don’t hang their heads. We come out the next day and fix mistakes.”
Buckeye used the third inning as a springboard. The Bucks scored twice on four walks, a single and wild pitch in the fourth, then used three walks, a double, triple and sacrifice fly to plate four in the fifth.
After rallying from a 7-2 deficit on Monday, Buckeye kept rolling.
“We came out with a lot better approach,” coach Howard Calame Jr. said. “We hit the ball.”
Buckeye 14, Black River 4 (5 inn.)
BLACK RIVER 002 20 — 5 7 2
BUCKEYE 017 24 — 14 10 1
Two outs when mercy run scored. WP — Clare Mewhinney 5 innings, 4 earned runs, walk, 4 strikeouts. LP — Emma Stief (1-6) 3⅓ innings, 10 runs, 8 earned, 8 hits, 6 walks, hit by pitch, strikeout. Black River (2-10, 2-9) — Taylor Hendershot 2 singles, RBI, run; Abbie Graves double, run; Kennedy Petruzzi double, 2 RBIs. Buckeye (10-8, 7-4) — Kaydee Clark double, RBI, run; Alyssa Beckett single, triple, 2 runs; Mewhinney double, 3 RBIs, 2 runs; Makenzie Mesar double, 2 runs; Courtney Keeler single, 2 runs; Ariana Whitmer single, 2 RBIs, 2 runs; Kylie Cooper double, 3 walks, 2 RBIs, 2 runs; Madison Ross double, 3 RBIs; Nicole Figueroa double, RBI, run.