Hard work and persistence paid off for Cardinal junior Haley Adams.
Adams entered Friday’s game against visiting Maplewood with just seven hits, nine runs batted in and four walks in 41 at bats this season. By the time the Huskies closed out their 18-8 six-inning win over the Rockets she had added 30 points to her batting average and nearly doubled her RBI output.
She finished the game 2-for-2 with two over-the-fence home runs, six RBI and three walks.
“I’m completely shocked by it all,” Adams said. “I’ve been struggling a lot lately so each and every day after practice I’ve been having a lot of the coaches stay with me and we just work on my swing constantly, whether it’s soft toss or in the batting cages. I’ve just been working really hard on it in the batting cages.”
It didn’t take long for Adams to reap the benefits of her extra swings.
The Rockets scored four runs in the top of the first but Adams’ three-run homer to left field ignited the Huskies, who went on to take a 7-3 lead after one.
“Lately our coaches have been telling us to swing at the first pitch, to not let that first pitch go by,” Adams said. “That first pitch came in and it was a little high and inside. I just threw my hands at it and let it fly. Luckily it went out to left field.”
Maplewood tied it with three more in the top of the second but the energized Huskies tacked on five more to regain the momentum.
“That was fun,” said Cardinal coach Dennis Ikeler. “I kind of exploded that first inning with the errors. I told them we can’t continue to give them six or seven outs every inning. They buckled down and started shutting them down. That was nice to see and they kept it up the rest of the game.”
Powered by Adams’ second blast, this one over the right field fence, the Huskies scored four more in the fourth inning to make it 16-7.
“I actually swung very late on that one,” Adams said. “I just didn’t get my hands around it quick enough to pull it.”
Maplewood got one back in the fifth but the Huskies weren’t about to let their third win slip away.
Led by Adams and Megan Baril, who was 3-for-4 with two doubles, the team combined for a season-high 17 hits.
Ikeler believes his Thursday’s intense loss to rival Berkshire served as an inspiration and confidence booster for the Huskies.
“That’s all it took, that confidence and a lot of it carried over from last night’s Berkshire game,” he said. “I knew they had it in them and they continued to play hard.”
Cardinal starting pitcher Jasmine Vunak saw playing time but only at third base as she continues to recover from an ankle injury. Baril again threw in her place to pick up the win. She walked just two batters and struck out four.
Dawn Scribben, Lexy Fenselon, Ameleya Loeser and Courtney Ellis each had two hits for the Huskies while Jess Koches, Delaney Leichtman, Faith Brown and Allissa Nevison all had one. Koches, Cardinal’s starting shortstop, suffered an injury to her right hand in Thursday’s game and was limited to playing on offense.
“Jasmine came to me and said, ‘Coach, let me play,” Ikeler said. “I didn’t bat her; she just played third. Jess could only bat. I was just jiggling things around just to keep us going.”
Adams left the game beaming with pride, not only for what she accomplished but in her team’s ability to overcome adversity to achieve a common goal.
“It felt great,” she said. “We all just came out ready. I think last night’s loss really got to us. We just came out and said we had to be aggressive. The first inning was a little rough for us but we got it out of the way. Coach just wanted us to have fun and honestly we all left everything out there tonight. I couldn’t ask for a better group of girls this year.”
Cardinal plays Trinity and host Garfield Heights in a doubleheader on Saturday.