Hillers top Ringgold, look for spark entering playoffs
Trinity softball coach Mike Marino probably isn’t going to market Thursday’s 12-6 win over Ringgold at South Strabane Community Park as an instructional video, the result of four walks, four hit batters, six wild pitches and three errors.
But after the Hillers closed the Section 2-AAA schedule with an 11-1 record and the outright section championship, Marino isn’t ready to give up on his young team.
“I think once they realized that they had the section, mentally they were not where they needed to be,” Marino said. “This should be an eye-opener for them, and we need to improve in all areas if we want to do something in the playoffs. But they’ll work at it.”
Thursday’s game featured several wild swings, with Trinity taking the lead for good following a five-run fourth. That negated the four runs Trinity gave up in the second inning on one hit, three walks, three hit batters and five wild pitches.
“It’s a challenge, because you want to get down and get mad at yourself, because you know you can do better,” said senior right fielder Ashley Humphries, who had three hits and four RBI. “But we all pulled together and worked it out.”
Part of that involved the performance of Katelyn Campbell, who threw 4 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, walking none and striking out two. She came on after Tiffany Clark left the game with shoulder tightness.
“We’re hoping it’s just some tightness,” Marino said. “Tiffany is a competitor, but I knew when she called for us that something was going on. The trainer was here, and hopefully things will be better. I think she needs a rest at this point.”
Trinity (11-1, 11-3) answered Ringgold’s two runs in the top of the first with six in the bottom half, three via fielder’s choice plays, a wild pitch and a two-run single from Humphries. But the Rams (5-7, 8-7) tied it by taking advantage of Trinity’s miscues in the top of the second.
The fourth inning started with Hornak and Gray again hitting back-to-back singles. Gray stole second and scored on Delaney Elling’s groundout.
“We were smart on the bases and got some key hits,” said Gray, who finished with three hits and two runs scored. “The girls pulled through.”
Designated player Hali Justice had the first of those key hits when she waited on a changeup and poked the ball to deep right center to score Hornak.
Justice, who went 2-for-3 with two RBI and three runs scored, would score when Ashley Winkelvoss reached on an error, Brianna Thomas (two hits, two runs) added a run-scoring double, and Humphries drove in the fifth run with a single.
Celina Cantini and Jess Angell drove in runs for Ringgold and Kathryn Fellabaum and Jada Castor scored two times each, but the Rams were unable to match Trinity’s final push.
“We collapsed,” Ringgold coach Bob Karpinsky said. “As a team, if we’re winning and have the lead, things are going good. Once we make a couple mistakes, the communication drops down. As a group, maybe we’re not strong enough to keep it together.”
Campbell allowed only two hits the rest of the way while benefiting from several spectacular plays from Gray at shortstop. She dove and nearly turned a double play herself in the fourth; in the seventh, she got the first out by dropping to one knee to make a play in the hole, and ended the game with a nifty backhanded stab.
It’s that type of defense – not what happened early on – that has Trinity confident it can build off what was once a nine-game winning streak come playoff time.
“I don’t think we have anything to worry about,” Humphries said. “I think we will face tougher competition, but I think we have enough skill on this team that we can handle it.”