April 18th, 2012
Mercy Drubs District Foe Manual 13-1
Jaguars' bats explode in victory over Lady Crimsons
The No. 3 ranked Mercy Academy softball team has enjoyed a streaky season so far. They shot out of the gate winning their first 13 games of the season while outscoring opponents by a whopping 96-12.
Then last week, during Spring Break, the Jaguars suffered four straight losses to a few of the top teams from Florida by a 39-10 margin.
Now back from that troubling trip, Mercy head coach Josh Bloomer has figured out a few of the problems his team had in Florida and has two straight wins to show for it. The Jags went on the road to defeat Central Hardin on Tuesday by a 2-0 score and followed that performance with a dominating route of district rival DuPont Manual 13-1 in a game ended after five innings due to the mercy rule.
“We came out and sort of went through the motions early on in this game,” remarked Bloomer of his team. “We’ve been talking about having a better approach at the plate, being a little bit more aggressive and I feel like we did that later in the game.”
Later in the game just happened to be the 3rd, 4th and 5th innings. The Jaguars scored 3 runs in the 3rd, 8 runs in the 4th and finished with 2 runs in the 5th. The big fourth inning saw Mercy send 12 hitters to the plate to score those eight runs.
Starting pitcher Haley Twyman pitched four innings, allowing four hits and a walk and allowed Manual’s only run in the bottom of the third. Twyman gave up a leadoff walk to Manual’s Sadie Cohen who was promptly sacrificed to second base and scored on a two out single down the right field line off the bat of Savannah Madison. But that was all Manual could muster against Twyman.
Leigh Ellen Thomas relieved Twyman in the bottom of the fifth and after a leadoff single, she retired three straight Manual hitters to end the game.
“Haley pitched well tonight,” said Bloomer. “I feel real confident with all three of our pitchers. J.J.’s our one (No. 1 starting pitcher J.J. Francis), but 99% of the teams in the state would love to have Haley or Leigh Ellen pitching for them. We’re fortunate to have three ‘number ones’. J.J.’s been through the ringer and knows what to do in tough spots. Haley’s learning that and she spotted the ball well tonight.”
While Twyman and Thomas took care of the Manual hitters, the Jaguars began to get their timing down against opposing pitcher Brittany Mitchell by the third inning. Morgan Meyer’s infield single turned into a triple as Mitchell overthrew first base and Meyer hustled to third on the overthrow. Morgan Ellington followed with a ground ball that was misplayed by Manual’s second baseman allowing Meyer to score. Lauren Springhetti was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second and Francis plated both of them with a double to the right centerfield fence to give the Jaguars a 3-0 lead.
The third inning was just an appetizer for the Jaguars as they kept applying pressure by making Mitchell and Manual pay for three walks and a hit batter in the fourth inning. The Jaguars added three singles to those four free base runners and the girls took advantage of two big defensive errors by Manual to score 8 runs and bust open the 3-1 game.
Mercy sent 14 batters to the plate in the inning. Caroline Keck led off with a single and was followed by Courtney Ellington reaching base on a fielder’s choice. Twyman and Meyer followed with walks to force Keck in for the score. Morgan Ellington smoked a single to centerfield that scored two more runs and she and Meyer scored when Dykes’ bunt was misplayed by the Manual defense. After loading the bases again, the Jaguars were given two runs on a misplayed fly ball by the Manual centerfielder.
“We got everybody in the game, which is always nice,” remarked Bloomer. “Sam Dykes comes in at third base and played a great game. We haven’t been able to get a squeeze (bunt) down all year and she comes in and gets a squeeze down. Next time up she hits a ball to the gap and then she makes a great play at third. I was really pleased. We had everybody step up and perform tonight.”
After the rocky road trip to Florida, Niceville High School is ranked in the top 10 in many polls, Bloomer wanted to get some work with his hitters. And while he appreciated the tough competition they faced down there, he thinks the girls learned some valuable lessons.
“Well, they learned that they don’t like losing,” Bloomer dead-panned. “And Niceville is just better than us. The other three games we felt like we were as good as, if not better than. Some of our youth showed in those games and we figured out that we couldn’t play that way. We got out of the trip what we needed. It humbled the girls a little bit and they went right to work at practice.”
For Mercy, this win clinches the District 25 regular season title and ensures a No. 1 seed for post season play, something Bloomer has as one of the team goals every year.
“We have a week off, which is good and will give us some time to practice,” said Bloomer. “Winning this game is great as it gives us the No. 1 seed in the District. Everything else we do at this point is just about getting us better for the post season and preparing for the regional tournament.”