Mentor opened the 2022 season with a dramatic win over Greater Cleveland Conference rival Medina on Wednesday.
The Cardinals scored a run in the bottom of the seventh inning to beat the Bees, 2-1.
“It is great to win any game, especially a season opener against a conference team that we battled it out with last season,” said Mentor coach Jo Bondra. “They are coached very well so we knew it was going to be tough. I’m glad we were able to get it done today.”
Medina took a 1-0 lead on a single followed by a triple in the top of the third.
The Cardinals didn’t answer until the sixth when Abby Haydu and Sydni Bush hit back-to-back singles and Addison Siedler walked to load the bases. After a fielder’s choice gunned down the runner at home, the Cardinals tied the game on Sofia Kraska’s RBI single.
Mentor recorded six hits in the first five innings and then found their stroke in the final two innings to match those six hits.
“I think it was a combination of a few things,” Bondra said of her squad’s offensive production in the final two innings. “It was our first home game and first conference game and they saw most of our hitters last year and their pitcher did an outstanding job. We didn’t make adjustments early in the game; we had a few hard hits that were right at people. Late in the game, we waited for our pitch.”
Medina loaded the bases in the top of the seventh but Leah Temple recorded her fourth strikeout of the game to end the threat.
“That shows the leadership and experience that we have on the team,” Bondra said of getting out of the bases-loaded jam unscathed. “Leah was able to lock in after a phenomenal catch by Sydni Bush behind the plate and get the third out. These kids have worked the entire off-season for moments like that, and it showed.”
No moment was bigger than the one Haydu faced in the bottom of the seventh.
Temple opened the inning with a single and Peyton Trick singled for the third time in the game to set Haydu up with runners at first and third and no outs.
“To be honest, I was extremely nervous,” Haydu said. “I was only thinking about making contact and getting the ball out of the infield. When I saw Medina’s coaches bring in the outfield, I knew I had to hit it over their heads to get the winning run in.”
Haydu doubled to right to end the game.
“I was in total shock,” she said. “I didn’t know where the ball went, how far it went, and if they caught it or not. Seconds later, I saw Leah Temple and the rest of my team running toward me, so I knew it was a success. My confidence will surely be high in myself and my teammates, although there is still a lot to be done. Knowing I have my teammates’ and coaches’ support, my confidence will continue to grow.”
Haydu finished the game 2-for-4 with the game-winning RBI.
“Abby’s potential is sky high,” Bondra said. “She takes so much time each day breaking down her swing, working with her dad, sister, and I’m sure others to make sure she is ready come game time. We as coaches had all the confidence in the world that she would get a hit. She prepares for this moment and she showed that today. I’m excited to see what she can do this season.”
Temple was 2-for-4 at the plate and limited Medina to just one hit.
Trick was 3-for-4 and Bush finished the game 3-for-3 at the plate, and also made a diving catch behind the dish, and threw a runner out attempting to steal.
“Sydni Bush played lights out today,” Bondra said. “She threw a runner out stealing, had a diving catch in the top of the seventh with two runners on, and went 3-for-3 offensively. The team was able to feed off of her catch late in the game. It got everyone pumped up.”
Kraska was 2-for-2 with an RBI.
Mentor hosts Riverside on Thursday.