By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – Off an extremely bumpy ride the previous day against Edwin O. Smith, the Bristol Eastern softball team got right back to work on Wednesday, April 18 against CCC South rival Berlin.
And that meant pitching, hitting, and – of course – exceptional defense by the Lancers.
Eastern sent 11 batters to the plate in the fourth inning against the Redcoats and eventually turned a two-run contest into a nine-run blowout.
In the end, the 9-0 victory from the softball field on King Street propelled the Lancers to 4-1 on the campaign – halfway to playoff qualification.
The game reversed an unusual 9-8 nip-and-tuck win against versus E.O. Smith on Tuesday, April 17 as defense ruled the afternoon against the Redcoats.
And it helped that star chucker Erin Girard pitched a three-hit, no run, nine-strikeout gem in which Berlin was unable to get anything going offensively.
“It was a step-up from yesterday (against E.O. Smith),” said Redman of the defense. “We came with a better mental attitude today. We played a lot cleaner game behind [Girard]. She did a good job keeping hitters off-balanced and as the game went on, she did a better job keeping kids in counts that were in her favor.”
“She battled throughout with [Berlin], sometimes having runners in scoring position which was good.”
Overall, Eastern blasted out 15 hits – several of which were of the extra-base variety.
To open the first inning, Berlin drew a one-out walk on Girard but that runner never had a chance to get into scoring position.
Then it was the Lancers’ turn at the plate.
With one gone in the bottom of the first, Zoe Lowe (2-for-5, two HR, three RBI) smoked a shot that rolled all the way to the fence in left and she legged all the way around the bases for an inside-the-park homer, making it a 1-0 game.
From there, Jordan Fitzsimons dropped in a Texas Leaguer to short center, went to second on a wild pitch and when Hacking walked, two runners were on.
The duo advanced a base via a wild pitch, both moving in scoring position.
Paige McLaughlin then struck out but a base-on-balls to Girard loaded things up for Lauren Aparo (2-for-3, triple, 3 RBI).
Aparo slapped the ball hard but right at the Berlin shortstop as the putout ended the first frame with the Lancers on top 1-0.
“Berlin played some good defense,” said Redman. “That shortstop robbed three or four hits. It could have been worse. We hit the ball hard all day today.”
In the top of the second, Berlin’s Kelsey Zliczewski earned a two-out walk and Julia Ladd sent a scribbler just passed Aparo at first base as the Redcoats had two runners on.
But Casey Uryga was strikeout victim number three for Girard as the game remained a 1-0 affair in Eastern’s favor.
To open the Lancers’ portion of the second, Riley Giblin dropped a double over the left fielder’s head and the home team was in business again.
A bunt by Lyzah Corliss turned into an infield single as Eastern had runners on the corners as the top of the order up – all without the benefit of an out.
Corliss swiped second as Berlin kept Giblin at third but two runners were in scoring position.
Taylor Keegan fell to strikes, as did Zoe, but Fitzsimons came through off an infield offering.
On a full count, Fitzsimons sent a hot shot to pitcher Stefanie Poulin on the mound that she knocked down but could not cleanly grab.
As Fitzsimons reached base safely, Giblin scored to make it a 2-0 contest through two innings of action.
In the third, Berlin’s Lindsay Walsh led off with a walk but got caught off the bag – leading to an eventually double play.
Jenna Zup lined out to Keegan at second and she quickly chucked the ball to first base, getting Walsh and two big outs were on the board.
Berlin went 1-2-3 in that third frame while Eastern wanted to pad its lead.
Aparo earned a two-out walk to keep the third tilt going but an inning-ending fly-out from Giblin moved the contest into the fourth stanza with Eastern in charge at 2-0.
Girard cruised in the fourth, picking up a ‘K’ on Michelle Cohen to end Berlin’s time at the plate.
“She pitched well considering the conditions,” said Redman. “It’s kind of cold.”
Taylor Keegan dumped a double to right in the fourth and then it was Lowe’s turn to shine again.
She dropped a ball in the gap in left and as it again rolled towards the fence and there wasn’t any slowing down the freshman sensation.
The result was a two-run, inside-the-park home run – her second of the showdown – as Eastern surged in front by a 4-0 tally.
Fitzsimons and Alyssa Hackling then unleashed back-to-back singles before a little small-ball invaded the game.
McLaughlin then dropped a perfect bunt halfway between the mound and the plate and as the throw went home, Fitzsimons – coming from third base – slid in safety as the Lancers led 5-0.
Girard later singled on and then, with the bases loaded, Aparo unleashed a triple to right field – collecting three RBI on the blast – and quickly, the Eastern cushion was 8-0.
Giblin came up to bat for the second time in the inning, walking this time around, and runners were back on the corners for BE.
Corliss hit into a 6-3 fielder’s choice but Aparo scored as Berlin’s deficit reached 9-0 and that was the score as the fifth inning commenced.
“They hit well today,” said Redman of his squad. “I think having the game from yesterday [against E.O. Smith] to today could go a couple different ways. Today, they responded. They came out ready to play today.”
In the top frame of the fifth, Aparo made a great stretch to snare a 1-6-3 putout to keep the Redcoats off the bases and when Girard fanned Uryga for the last out, Girard had tallied her sixth strikeout of the game.
Michelle Cohen came into the pitch for Berlin in the fifth and the Lancers attempted a little two-out rally.
Hackling beat out a single to short right and McLaughlin walked to put two runners on.
But a ground-out ended the stanza with the Redcoats still trailing by nine runs.
Walsh opened the top of the sixth a with a single that just snuck out to the grass in centerfield and Kylie Lanteri smacked a one-out base hit to right and quickly, the visitors had something brewing.
A fielder’s choice by Alexa Lanteri advanced the duo but Girard sent Nicole Perrotta packing as the strikeout saw Eastern’s 9-0 push remain intact.
Aparo got her second hit of the game in the bottom of the sixth as her single to left led things off for Eastern and Brianna Norton reached on an error as the entire roster eventually made an appearance in the game.
“Getting everyone in the game is nice,” said Redman. “Older, younger, just getting everyone involved [and] its keeps everyone committed which is good.”
The runners advanced on a wild pitch and Keegan walked to load things up for Lowe.
She hit into a 5-2 putout and Fitzsimons grounded out as well but Berlin needed to score nine times in the seventh to keep the game rolling.
However, it never came to pass as the Lancers shutdown the side and were 9-0 winners.
Redman was happy to get all these games in this season during less than ideal weather conditions that have forced numerous postponements.
“Everyone is backed up but we’re not in bad shape,” said Redman of his squad. “We’ve got five games in now. We’ve got one that was pushed later in the year against Plainville but overall, I’m happy with where we’re at considering.”
Comments? Email mletendre@BristolObserver.com.