Juliana Augusta broke out of an early-season slump in leading North to a 10-1 non-conference win over visiting St. Vincent-St. Mary on Wednesday.
Augusta was 3-for-3 with two doubles, a home run, and she knocked in six runs before being intentionally walked in her final at-bat.
“That was big,” said North coach Matt McPeek of Augusta’s power surge. “I don’t even think she really knew that she was struggling. She just went up there and kind of had a different look and you could see it in her stature. She knew something good was going to happen as soon as she dug in today.”
Augusta, who batted .327 with three home runs last spring, entered Wednesday’s game 0-for-11 in North’s first four games.
After her sister, Olivia Augusta, and Maddie Russo hit back-to-back singles to open the second, Augusta hit a 2-0 pitch into right field for a two-run double that gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“It was very exciting for me to finally get out of my hitting slump and do what I normally do when I’m up to bat,” she said. “When I went up to bat, I wasn’t tense. I felt relaxed. I was 100-percent confident in what I was supposed to do. Yes, I had some bad games but I had to flush them in order for me to move on. I did feel a little more pressure on me because I know what I can do and what I can put out. All of my confidence came back, without a doubt.”
Augusta hit a three-run double in the third and a two-run homer in the fifth.
“When I hit the home run, it was an inside-low pitch,” she said. “It felt really good coming off the bat because when I shorten up my swing I saw it clearly and got to it faster. I felt it coming and I’m glad it came.”
With two on in the sixth, the Fighting Irish opted to intentionally walk Augusta to load the bases rather than give her another opportunity to drive in runs.
“I did want to hit again but to see that a team has that much respect for me is basically saying, ‘Good job today,’ to me,” she said.
Olivia Augusta and Russo both finished the game with two hits and both hit doubles.
Alyssa McPeek, Amanda Dobida, and Lily Namestnik also had hits for the Rangers, who improved to 4-1 on the year.
“Maddie had another big day,” Coach McPeek said of Russo. “She just goes up and sees the ball and hits the ball. There’s no science behind it, she’s just always ready and that’s what’s gotten her that spot and that’s what’s got her moved up in the order.”
Dobida earned the win in the circle after allowing one unearned run on three hits and fanning nine Irish batters.
Taylor Bard threw two scoreless innings in relief. She allowed one hit and struck out one.
“Amanda was dominating on the mound again and we had enough cushion to get Taylor a couple of innings at the end,” McPeek said. “With Amanda, we’ve been kind of paying attention to pitch counts a lot harder than at the beginning of the year and getting both of them in there is going to make us better in the long haul for when the playoffs come. Olivia Augusta took the ball on Saturday and dominated Elyria Catholic and Taylor was ready today. She walked the first couple of hitters but got out of a couple of tight jams with full counts. She just stays ready and that’s what got her on the varsity this year, just her work ethic and how she stayed in shape outside of softball to prepare for this season. She’s just another workhorse. It’s nice to have so many kids on the pitching staff that are ready to work.”
The Rangers hosts Division IV defending state runner-up Cuyahoga Heights on Thursday.