For the first time this season the Canfield softball team was able to play a full week’s slate of games and it paid off handsomely.
The Lady Cardinals put together a four game winning streak, which included two wins in the All American Red Tier and two in the prestigious Prebis Memorial Tournament in LaGrange, Ohio. Canfield remains unbeaten in the league and now stands 5-4 overall. Canfield head coach Ronie Haurin attributes that turnaround in the season record to her hurlers being able to log consistent innings.
“Our pitchers are getting back into their rhythm as we play more games,” admitted Haurin this past weekend.
Pitcher Carlee Hart has shown enough rhythm lately to make Lady Gaga look uncoordinated. The senior slinger captured three wins last week striking out over 20 batters combined. Her biggest win, and perhaps Canfield’s biggest win, of the season came in the opening game of the Prebis Tournament when she outdueled Keystone’s 10-0 starter Kenzie Conrad. In fact, the Wildcats were a perfect 18-0 heading into that match with the Cardinals on April 29, but were knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten when Canfield put up four runs in the top of the sixth inning to blow open a 3-1 lead.
“We took control in the sixth with back-to-back-to-back singles followed by a three-run triple by junior catcher Laura Beck,” said an elated Haurin. “The Wildcats rallied late in the seventh, but (Kayley) Keller grabbed the final out with runners on base.”
Scoring seven runs and knocking eight hits against the heretofore unblemished Conrad was a tribute to how well Canfield’s offense played last week. Coach Haurin explained that a good reason for that offensive success is that her entire lineup has put in some important at bats and all of her girls are feeling well.
“Everyone is healthy now and we are hitting the ball better,” the coach said. “Everyone has contributed in some way to get us back on track.”
In the second game of the Prebis Tournament on April 30, it was a three-run sixth inning this time that sealed the deal for the local girls in a 6-2 victory over Medina Highland. Sarah Vrabel hit a double for two RBIs and Gina Mancini had two hits and scored two runs. Cara Cupler also cracked a double for Canfield. Hart earned her fourth win of the year with a four-hitter. She struck out 10 Highland hitters. Going 2-0 in last week’s tournament may enable the Canfield girls to do well in a more important tournament yet to be played.
“We had some other tournaments rained out so the Prebis Tourney was a great experience,” Haurin said. “It gave us some good experience before the (state) tourney begins.”
Another thing that was good for the Cardinals was gaining a couple wins against conference opponents. Canfield beat Niles 7-1 on April 27 behind a three-hitter by Hart. Keller collected a triple, a single and four RBIs to pace the offense. Mancini went 2-4 with an RBI. Abby Baker also brought home a run in the win. Catcher Beck backed all of that offense and good pitching up with two tremendous catches on foul pop ups and by gunning down a runner trying to steal. Canfield has used plenty of pitching and timely hitting to put together four wins in a row, but coach Haurin also wants Cardinal Nation to notice the fine play of her girls in the field.
“Our defense has been solid to back our pitchers,” she said proudly. “It has truly been a team effort.”
Taking one for the team on April 28 was pitcher Vrabel. Hart needed a day off to rest her arm and her innings count so up stepped Vrabel to vanquish Beaver Local on a one-hit shutout. Canfield beat the Lady Beavers 12-0. Aiding Vrabel’s pitching heroics was Mancini who hit a two-run double and Keller who hit a two-run single. Sydney Opladen got into the action as well for Canfield with a double.
The Cardinals were scheduled to put their 3-0 AAC Red Tier record on the line when they visited archrival Poland and superstar pitcher Erin Gabriel on May 4. A road game at Ursuline is set for May 6. Both of those games against powerful foes will provide incredible tune-ups for the upcoming state playoffs.