by Richard Creaser
copyright the Chronicle 5-1-13
The Lake Region Rangers defeated the visiting Peoples Academy Wolves in resounding fashion during Tuesday’s varsity softball match-up at Lake Region. The game was called in the home half of the sixth, invoking the mercy rule after the Rangers posted 18 runs to the Wolves three.
“When we start hitting we definitely feel more confident,” said Rangers starting pitcher Michelle Thibeault. “Today we were hitting.”
The key to Lake Region’s success lies in the team’s speed, Coach Matt Tinker acknowledged after the game. But to make use of that speed the players first need to reach base, he said.
“If the other pitcher is in control we can have trouble getting on base,” Coach Tinker said. “Once we’re there we can really start moving. We run until the catcher starts making throws to show us we can’t.”
Lake Region took advantage of poor control as the Wolves pitching struggled with wild pitches, walks and passed balls. The Rangers pounced on Peoples’ miscues and used their speed to devastating effect. Wolves starter Megan Lamare never seemed to hit her stride, laboring through five innings of work before she was finally pulled in favor of Elysha Burgess in the top of the fifth.
By contrast, Thibeault appeared to get stronger as the game went on. A rough third inning allowed Peoples to plate two runs, thanks to some timely bunts and a few Ranger defensive missteps, but Thibeault remained solid throughout.
She would finish the day with six strikeouts, two walks, three runs allowed and four hits, all of them singles. Throughout the game she continued to fearlessly pound the strike zone as if daring her opponents to swing.
“I felt really good out there,” Thibeault said. “It helps that I know I have a really solid team behind me. They have my back.”
Coach Tinker commended Thibeault on her performance.
“That makes two straight starts that Michelle has really come out and pitched well,” Coach Tinker said. “When she’s on like that and when we can reach base, we always have a good chance of winning.”
The Rangers opened the scoring in the home half of the first inning, plating three runs to give Lake Region an early lead. The Rangers added another in the second before Peoples capitalized on a rough third inning to cut the lead in half. Lake Region responded by plating two more runs in the bottom of the third to lead 6-3.
“When it was 4-2 and then 6-3 I knew we couldn’t let up,” Coach Tinker said. “A three-run lead can disappear really quickly.”
The Rangers responded with a huge bottom of the fourth, bringing home seven runs in an inning that saw 12 batters go to the plate. With Thibeault shutting down the Wolves for the next two innings, the game was all but over. With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Lake Region scored five more times to invoke the mercy rule and end the game.
The Rangers return to action on Thursday, May 2, with a home game against the visiting Danville Indians. The game is scheduled for a 4:30 p.m. start.
Contact Richard Creaser at firstname.lastname@example.org