Oak Hill’s Kiera Young reacts after getting tagged out by Hall-Dale third baseman Isabella Marino trying to stretch a double into a triple during a Raiders win in Wales on Wednesday. (Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal)
WALES — Oak Hill needed a spark. Miranda Kramer delivered.
That spark — a high line drive that sailed over the head of Hall-Dale’s right fielder and to the fence for an inside-the-park home run — lit the Raiders’ offense on fire for two innings, allowing them to distance themselves for a 6-1 win over Hall-Dale in an MVC softball game Wednesday.
“I was trying not to overthink in the box, just swing, and I was watching as I was running down first-base line,” Kramer said, “I was rounding the bases and I got to third and I was like, ‘Okay, I’m ready to slide,’ and (coach Allyson Collins) kept going. I was like, ‘Oh, okay.'”
The Raiders (8-2) and Bulldogs (5-6) were knotted at one after one inning when Kramer stepped to the plate to lead off the bottom of the second.
“We really needed that after … only four hits in the Madison game. We really needed a spark, and Miranda’s a spark anyway,” Collins said. “She has a really fun personality, so to see her come through, and her be that person, we talk about, ‘Who wants to be the person’s that going to get us going?’ And today it was her, so that was awesome.”
Oak Hill left Rylea Swan stranded at third after doubling later in the inning, but the Raiders kept the bats hot into the third. Kiera Young led off with a single, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Abby Nadeau’s single that followed. Molly Flaherty singled as well, moving Nadeau to third, and an error brought Nadeau home. Kramer drove in a third run with a sacrifice grounder and Emily Ahlberg brought in the fourth and final run of the frame with a sacrifice bunt.
“We just had that one bad inning … and I think they just capitalized on our mistakes that one inning,” Hall-Dale coach Steve Acedo said. “Other than that it’s a 2-1 game.”
The Raiders were held in check the rest of the way by Bulldogs freshman pitcher Sarah Benner, a fact that left Collins still a little leery of her offense.
“We had a few other scoring opportunities, and I wish we could have capitalized on those, but it was a little better than last game, so hopefully Friday will be a little better than that,” Collins said.
Hall-Dale took advantage of Oak Hill’s only error in the top of the first. Molly Flaherty struck out the first two batters, but Isabella Marino was able to make contact, and her high fly ball into right field fell in. Grace Begin immediately followed with a hard liner off the tip of center fielder Mahala Smith’s glove for a double, scoring Marino and giving the Bulldogs a quick 1-0 lead.
The Raiders answered back in the bottom half of the inning. Smith singled with one out, moved to second on a wild pitch, third on Young’s groundout, and then scored on another wild pitch.
Benner allowed just three hits in her final three innings after the Raiders tagged her for seven in the first three.
“She’s been keeping us in games,” Acedo said. “She’s not overpowering yet, but she’s right up there with most pitchers in our league this year.”
The Bulldogs struggled with Flaherty’s changeup, which kept them off balance for four innings.
“I think we were on her fastball. We were hitting her fastball hard,” Acedo said. “We talked about it earlier, 0-2 she threw a changeup every single time. I mean, they weren’t hiding it. You could see it coming, and they just weren’t keeping their hands back, didn’t adjust to it.”
“Her changeup looked really good today, and she stayed ahead of batters, which is really important, something we’ve really been working on with her,” Collins said.
Hall-Dale got to Flaherty in the fifth, hitting three singles in a four at-bat span to load the bases with two outs. But Begin’s fly ball found the glove of left fielder Sadie Waterman for the final out.
Waterman then relieved Flaherty for the final two innings, putting just one runner on after hitting Amanda Benner in the sixth.
“We’ve liked to split the games,” Collins said. “It seems to keep hitters off balance a little bit. Just when they’re getting around on one, you can put in the other, and they’re both good pitchers.”
Flaherty scattered six hits while striking out six to earn the win.
Oak Hill’s Abby Nadeau slides into home plate as Hall-Dale catcher Riley Johnson watches the play unfold during the Raiders’ win in Wales on Wednesday. (Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal)Oak Hill’s Kiera Young runs to second base after Hall-Dale pitcher Sarah Benner, center, delivers a pitch, as third baseman Isabella Marino looks on during the Raiders’ win in Wales on Wednesday. (Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal)Oak Hill’s Sadie Waterman runs down the first-base line trying to beat a throw from Hall-Dale second baseman Kailey Roberts to first baseman Jill Whynot during a Raiders win in Wales on Wednesday. (Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal)Oak Hill starting pitcher Molly Flaherty tracks her pitch during a win over Hall-Dale in Wales on Wednesday. (Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal)Hall-Dale freshman pitcher Sarah Benner goes through her delivery during a loss to Oak Hill in Wales on Wednesday. (Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal)Oak Hill’s Emily Ahlberg drops down a sacrifice bunt that scored a run in a win over Hall-Dale in Wales on Wednesday. (Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal)Hall-Dale’s Emily Drappeau connects on a pitch during a loss to Oak Hill in Wales on Wednesday. (Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal)