copyright the Chronicle May 7, 2014
by Richard Creaser
ORLEANS — An aggressive running game, a sterling effort by pitcher Michelle Thibeault, and big innings with two-out rallies helped the Lake Region Rangers defeat the visiting Winooski Spartans on Tuesday afternoon. With the win the Rangers improved to 2-3 in Division II play after opening the season on a three-game losing skid.
The Rangers would strike first in the home-half of the first inning. Megan Menard started off the scoring with a single and stolen base before Alyssa Royer plated her. A pair of steals and a passed ball later, Royer would also come around to score giving the Rangers a 2-0 lead.
“The running game is a big part of our game,” Royer said after the game. “When we can move up the bases like that it puts us in a position to score when we get hits.”
Winooski pitcher Amanda Nattress struggled in the second inning, issuing five walks and four more runs as Royer smacked her second hit of the day, a two-RBI infield single with two outs.
“I was just seeing the ball really well,” Royer said. “She [Nattress] was throwing just the perfect speed for me. A little bit faster or a little bit slower, and I don’t think I would have had as many hits as I did.”
Thibeault was sharp, preventing any Spartan runners from reaching base through the first three innings while racking up four of her seven Ks on the day. The Spartans would eventually break the shutout bid in the fourth inning as Avah Eaton led off the inning with a sharp infield single. A hit batsman, a second single and a walk plated Winooski’s first run of the day.
The Rangers built on their lead with a huge fifth inning. Kalah Poginy drew a lead-off walk followed by Bianca Mackay’s infield single, setting the table for a big two-RBI double by Corrina Cota. Katie Menard’s single set up Royer’s two-out, two-RBI single. Royer swiped yet another bag and came around to score on Thibeault’s sharp single to left. A walk to Mickayla Peters was then followed by Poginy’s RBI single that brought Royer around to score. Suddenly the Rangers held a commanding 12-1 lead.
Smart base running and timely hits enabled the Spartans to claw back into contention with two runs in the top of the sixth. Dakota Duffey and Taylor Langlois plated the runs for Winooski.
The Rangers would respond with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning as Melanie Gagnon came around to give the Rangers a 13-3 lead with one inning to play. Thibeault’s day ended much as it began as she efficiently dispatched the Spartans in order and sealed the win with her seventh K of the day.
Asked about the team’s batting efficiency with two outs, Royer said the Rangers appeared to thrive when down in the count.
“I guess we just seem to play better under pressure,” Royer said. “We ran the bases really well and found the gaps when we needed them. Everything just kind of fell into place today.”
Royer finished the day an impressive 3-for-3 with five RBIs, four stolen bases and two runs scored.
contact Richard Creaser at firstname.lastname@example.org
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