Blue Devils close spring trip with doubleheader sweep

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Independence’s softball team closed out its spring trip to Florida with a 5-2 record and a lot of momentum heading into conference play next week.

The Blue Devils capped their week at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex with a doubleheader sweep of New York’s Webster Schroeder, 11-6, and Chicago’s Saint Ignatius College Prep, 6-1.

“I think this trip was extremely important for our team,” said four-year starter Maggie George. “We had seven games before our normal season to learn from our mistakes and figure out how to fit all of the pieces together. We’ve made a lot of new friendships and had a lot of fun. Our closeness and our talent is going to help us reach our goals for the postseason.”

George was one of Independence’s top hitters during the week.

She finished Friday’s doubleheader 4-for-7 at the plate with four runs scored and two runs batted in. Over the course of the week, she batted a team-best .520 with seven doubles and 10 RBI.

“My hitting has been great throughout the week and has really helped the team,” George said. “Whenever I go up to the plate, I think about what I can do to help the team win. That motivates me to do my best and put the ball in play. I’m happy that I could help the team as much as I did this week and I hope it continues throughout our season.”

Jenna Suhy and Molly Dougherty, who doubled twice, both finished with three hits in the win over Webster Schroeder. Dougherty and Sarah Piteo each knocked in three runs in the game.

Piteo also picked up the pitching victory. She allowed just two earned runs on six hits in seven innings of work.

Kim Rega opened the week with a tough outing in the circle but she closed it with a three-hit, eight strikeout win over Saint Ignatius.

Rega also had two hits in the game, including a double.

“Today was a team effort,” Rega said of the doubleheader sweep. “We were all tired from the week jam-packed with games. Bruised and exhausted, I did my job and so did everyone else. I couldn’t have done it without the strong defense behind me.”

Rega finished the week 4-0 in the circle with a 2.435 earned run average. She struck out 22 in 23 innings and gave up seven free passes.

“I am really excited to come back and continue to perform,” Rega said. “In terms of this week, we definitely have a great season ahead of us.”

Suhy was behind the dish for all seven games and she saw both Piteo and Rega become more confident in each game.

“Towards the end of the week, the entire team’s energy was up,” Suhy said. “This encouraged our pitchers to become successful. I continue to tell them to just do their job; our defense will take care of the rest.”

Suhy’s bat also had something to do with the doubleheader sweep.

She finished the first game 3-for-3 with two runs scored and was 2-for-4 with a double in the second.

“Over the last year, I have been working on being a triple-threat at the plate: bunting, slapping, and hitting,” she said. “Today, I stuck with that same approach and was able to be successful with the way the defense played me.”

In addition to her work in the circle, Piteo clobbered the ball all week.

She batted .500 (12-for-24) with two doubles, a triple and three home runs. She also led the team with 11 RBI.

Independence will play its first game in Ohio on Tuesday against visiting Perry.

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The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.