For the Norwalk Lady Truckers, it was the fourth inning that propelled them to a senior night win over the Willard Lady Flashes 5-3 on Wednesday night at Norwalk High School.
After the Lady Flashes scored a run in the top of the third after an Emily Nedolast double and an RBI single by Catherine Hamons, the sleeping giant that was the Norwalk offense awoke in the bottom of the fourth and erupted for all five of its runs in the inning.
Maddie Deiderick started the inning off reaching on an error and was driven in by a Kayla Appeman RBI double a batter later. Addie Mannino reached on an error followed by Leah Malson reaching on a fielder’s choice and Emma Kastor reaching on an error. Alishia Leimeister singled home Mannino and Lexi Gendron ripped a 2-RBI single to make it 4-1. Kaitlyn Stoll added an RBI single two batters later giving the Lady Truckers five runs for the inning.
Gendron, the team’s No. 9 hitter, went 3-for-3 with two singles and a double with an RBI. Norwalk coach Julie Schmidt admitted having her in the No. 9 position was a luxury for her team.
“That was awesome to get that from her; it made a huge difference in the ballgame,” Schmidt said.
The Lady Flashes didn’t give up though scoring two more runs in the fifth to make it a close game. Kathleen Schaaf started the inning off with a double and scored on an error. Nedolast added a 1-out single and was driven in by Hamons on an RBI double to make it a 5-3 Norwalk lead and that is where it would stay the rest of the way.
“I was happy with the way we approached every at bat and hit the ball,” Willard coach Fred Mock said. “(Kayla) Appeman sure is tough and she doesn’t have the strikeout record for no reason. We knew we had our hands full coming in and I am just proud we came out and put up some runs. Take away a few mental errors from us and it is a new ballgame.”
Appenman, Norwalk’s career strikeout leader tossed a complete game giving up three runs on eight hits and striking out 13 on her way to her ninth win of the season. Before the game, she along with fellow seniors Stoll and Mannino were honored as part of a senior night celebration.
“It is an important win,” Schmidt said. “Our seniors have worked hard every step of the way and they deserve everything they get. They earned it. They did their part and they deserved this win.”
Appeman also led the way offensively behind Gendron with two hits including a single and a double with an RBI. Sydney Hughes ripped three singles and stole a base. Stoll, Deiderick, Mannino, Leah Malson and Leimeister each added a hit. On a day when the Truckers ran themselves out of a couple of innings and runs came at a premium, Schmidt was encouraged at the way the Truckers added clutch hits when they needed to.
“We have the will to win,” Schmidt said. “They had that will to win in their hitting and they came through when they needed to.”
Willard collected eight hits on the night led by Nedolast with three including two doubles and a single. She also scored twice. Hamons added a pair of hits and two RBI with a double and a single. Jena Adams, Kaiten Weiss and Schaaf each added a hit with Weiss and Schaaf adding doubles. Mock couldn’t be happier with how his team performed against a tough Norwalk team.
“I have three freshmen, three sophomores and a junior starting,” Mock said. “I am very encouraged in this team. These girls play so hard and fight to the last out. We have times where we have mental lapses, but that comes with age. We have some very strong senior leaders who are teaching these girls how to play. I am really proud of these girls. We will bounce back.”
The Flashes fall to 6-10 on the season while Norwalk improves to 10-6. Both teams play each other again on Thursday at Willard.