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Northwestern bats too much for Wamogo in battle of unbeatens

POSTED April 24, 2019
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

                LITCHFIELD – You want to beat Northwestern Regional and end its 38-game Berkshire League softball winning streak? At the same time maybe push the Highlanders off their first place pedestal where they have lived for more than two seasons now.

                You want to do all that? Simple, steal their bats. Yep, find the storage shed and make the metal disappear.  Because on the field, the bats refuse to be silenced.

                In the Berkshire League’s premier matchup of the season Wednesday afternoon, the heavy metal Highlanders unleashed a relentless 15-hit attack in turning back Wamogo, 9-5, in a battle of unbeaten teams to move in to the Berkshire League’s top spot at roughly the halfway point of the season.

                Northwestern (8-0) scored in five different innings and had at least one baserunner in every inning. Seven different players drove in runs and all but two players had hits.  The weak part of the order? There wasn’t one.

                Jana Sanden slugged a home run and had three hits while Raelynn Perregaux and Harley Jasmin  also had three hits and an RBI apiece. Ava Blanchard and Ellie Olsen chipped in with two hits apiece.

                And all the damage came against one of the BL’s very best pitchers, Sam Sylvester, who knows a hitting team when she faces one.

                “My change-up could have been better, there are always things you could do to be better,” said Sylvester. “But they are just good hitters. They read the ball and they hit.”

                Northwestern coach Stacey Zematis agreed.

                “Today one-through- nine put the bat on the ball,” said Zematis. “We do a lot of hitting in practice. I move the screen up close and pitch to them. They see it and the release. (Tuesday) we worked on pitch selection. That was a huge part of it. We had solid hits.”

                The Highlanders needed every bit of offense against the Warriors who slugged three home runs and rallied from an early 2-0 deficit and later on a 5-3 deficit to tie the game, 5-5, in the bottom of the fifth inning.  The challenge did not go unanswered.

                Sydney Sanden singled to start the sixth inning and after a ground out scored on Jana Sanden’s single for a 6-5 lead. Jasmin followed with a double to the gap in left center and eventually came home on a wild pitch for an 8-5 lead.

                The Highlanders added another run in the seventh when Perregaux tripled down the left field line and came home on Megan Griswold’s fly to center.

                “We made an adjustment after the start of the game, I told the team to get back in the box,” said Jana Sanden. “It gives you more time to see the pitch and hit the ball where it is pitched.”

                Northwestern pitcher Lexi Fortier did her part, holding the Warriors at bay after allowing three first inning runs that included a two-run bomb off the bat of Savannah Wheeler, the first of her pair of two-run homers.

                Fortier scattered eight hits and held the Warriors scoreless the rest of the way except for a two-run fifth inning. She capped off her performance in the bottom of the seventh snuffing out a potential comeback by Wamogo,

                One out back-to-back singles from Danielle Malisewski and Cecily Zematis had the home folks humming especially with Sylvester coming up who had already singled and doubled in the game.  Sylvester ended up grounding into a step-on-third, throw-to-first double play to end the game.

                “I adjusted to the batters,’ said Fortier. “ They were cranking inside (pitches) so I started throwing different pitches.”

                It also helps to have an offense that last rest about three years ago.

                “It gives me confidence to know that if I give up a few runs we can get it right back,” said Fortier. “We are solid one through nine.”

                Northwestern jumped out early, 2-0 in the top of the first only to see Wamogo tack on three in the bottom of the inning. The Highlanders tied the game in the second inning and got a pair of RBI singles from Blanchard and Perregaux in the fifth to go on top, 5-3

                That lasted as long as it took Wamogo to get to bat when Wheeler went yard for her second time to tie the score.

                 It wasn’t the Warriors’ day but there will be another day (May 20). Wamogo coach Dave Sylvester saw his team take a step forward after being beaten convincingly twice a year ago by the Highlanders (11-2, 13-4).

                “Northwestern is a very, very good team but this year we closed the gap,” said Sylvester who saw his team slip to 7-1. “I told the kids; let’s make the second game meaningful.”   

                Until then maybe somebody will break into that storage shed and steal the bats.  

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