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Wildcats hold early lead vs. St. Paul

By JOE GILROY • Updated Apr 20, 2018 at 10:20 PM

NEW LONDON — The St. Paul softball entered Friday’s game at New London with plenty of motivation after allowing a five-run inning in a 9-4 loss to the Wildcats just a day earlier.

But it was host New London rallying from an early deficit to edge past the Lady Flyers this time, 6-4, in a Firelands Conference game to improve to 5-3 overall (5-1 FC).

The win sets up the Wildcats with an opportunity to play for first place in today’s FC makeup game at Monroeville (13-0, 6-0). The two teams played Wednesday in New London.

“I thought we made some pretty good contact with the ball tonight and took advantage of some of their mistakes,” New London coach Joe Thomas said. “We started out slow, especially in the field, but then I was happy to see that we were able to get settled back into the game and played like we are capable of playing after that.”

St. Paul (3-8, 1-5) grabbed the early lead when it successfully bunted three straight at-bats that ended when Morgan Baxter drove in Olivia Englert for the 1-0 lead.

But the Flyers lead did not hold very long. Emily Dalton led the home half of the second inning off with a triple and then scored off the bat of Kati Layport.

Cassie Lay then stepped up to the plate and smacked a single that plated Kathy VanGilder and Sierra Hose to give New London a 3-1 lead.

With VanGilder on the mound, the ‘Cats never trailed again in the game.

After initially struggling, the Division I Miami University recruit went the distance in the circle. She allowed four runs (three earned), struck out five, and didn’t walk a batter in 90 pitches (65 strikes).

“We got off to a bad start in the field,” Thomas said. “After adjusting the infield and outfield depths, we started to get our feet back under us and played much better the rest of the way.

“Kathy did a pretty good job of pitching and we fielded better,” he added. “We will need to keep improving, and need Kathy to pitch like this, because this is one of the better conferences around — and if we want to compete, we need to be consistent.”

St. Paul did not just lay down after falling behind. It fought all the way back to tie the game at 4-4 in the fifth inning. New London wasted no time regaining the lead for good in the bottom part of the fifth inning when Lilli Bartow scored the game-winning run on a St. Paul error.

“We need to clean some things up on in the field and do a better job of driving in runners when have them,” St. Paul coach Bob Wilhelm said. “I am proud of them though, because they played hard and never gave up.

“We have not had a of success around here lately, and though they are young,” he added. “These girls are really getting a lot better, and it is just a matter of time before they start putting together some wins. I really believe that.”

St. Paul is off until next week when it visits Western Reserve on Tuesday.

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