Just one day after losing to New London on the road, the Flyers again fell to the Wildcats, 11-4, at Norwalk Area Contractors Park.
“Honestly, before we played St. Paul we have struggled offensively and we couldn’t hit the ball at all,” New London coach Joe Thomas said. “Then yesterday our bats really came alive and we had close to 20 hits — and we probably haven’t had that many all season combined.
“These last two days we have seen the ball come out of the pitchers hands much better than before, and Lili Bartow went 4 for 4 yesterday and then followed that up by going 2 for 4 today,” he added. “The top of the batting order has picked things up quite a bit. The seniors have really stepped up and the underclassmen. I think our base running has really improved.”
St. Paul pitcher Marlaina Sowers got off to a fast start, as she retired the Wildcat batters in order in the first inning. But then the mistakes that have plagued the Flyers since the beginning of the season showed themselves as wild pitches and errors aided New London with a run in the second inning — and set the stage for the big five-run second inning by the Wildcats.
Gabby Ledbetter picked up the win for New London and continued to improve with more experience. She finished with 12 strikeouts and allowed three runs in her complete-game win.
Sowers did her best to match Ledbetter but did not get as much run support as her counterpart. Brooke Houck scored two runs and Caizzo added a run as a flex player.
“We are still making the same mistakes that we have been making all season long, and that is what is really hurting us as a team,” St. Paul coach Bob Wilhelm said. “We are a young team, but like I told the girls just a few minutes ago, yeah it is still early, but we are also now about halfway through the season.
“The team needs to start playing like veterans, because they all are,” he added. “Marlaina was put in a tough position with our ace getting injured and she has improved a lot, but she has to get the ball across the plate consistently and we can’t make so many errors in the field.
It gets no easier for St. Paul. After a doubleheader today at Fremont St. Joseph, the Flyers match up on Monday at home and Tuesday on the road with Crestview — the defending Firelands Conference champions who are again considered a frontrunner to win the league.
“Offensively, we have to pick it up, too,” Wilhelm said. “On (Thursday), they (New London) got 16 hits and we had something like five, and it was the same today. That’s the difference in these games. We have to start hitting the ball better.”
New London visits Monroeville on Monday, another contender for the FC crown. Thomas said he’s been pleased to see the team also improve drastically on the base paths.
“Earlier in the year, they were timid there, and I am more of an aggressive coach when it comes to running the bases,” he said. “I have been preaching to the girls the importance of putting pressure on the opposing team, and it has really taken hold — which is important. If you can take a chance and advance the runner, it eliminates those force outs. Hopefully we can keep the momentum, as we have a good Monroeville team coming up with a great pitcher in Carley Helmstetter.”
New London 015 101 3 — 11 15 2
St. Paul 001 101 1 — 4 5 4
WP: Ledbetter; LP: Sowers
2B: (NL) Bartow 2; (SP) K. Stang. 3B: (SP) HouckThe growing pains continued for St. Paul on Friday just one day after losing