KIRTLAND—NDCL senior Madi Dutton recorded three hits and struck out 14 in leading the Lions to a 10-2 win at Kirtland on Wednesday.
With the game tied at 1-1 entering the fifth inning, the Lions scored five runs to pull away from the pesky Hornets.
“It was really instrumental to get off on the right foot,” said NDCL coach Tiger Alexander. “With the weather, you don’t know if you’re going to play or not so to come out here against a quality opponent and be able to go toe-to-toe and then get some separation, we needed it. Every game is going to be competitive. There’s a lot of parity in the area. I respect the Kirtland program very much so.”
After being shut down in order in the first inning, the Lions loaded the bases in the second but Kirtland pulled a double play to end that threat.
NDCL broke through with the game’s first run in the third.
Celia Anthony drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on Jeanna Sukey’s single. Both runners moved up a base and Dutton delivered an RBI single to give the Lions a 1-0 lead.
The Hornets tied the game in the bottom of the fourth.
Bella Hostutler drew a leadoff walk and stole second. Gianni Cantini walked with one out and Kennedy Boyd hit an infield single to load the bases. Hostutler scored on a wild pitch.
NDCL’s offense exploded for five runs on five hits in the fifth.
Lucy Joyce tripled and Ava Morano hit a double in the inning. Sukey, Dutton, and Giana Messina each had a single.
The Lions added two runs in the sixth and seventh innings to finish off the Hornets.
Sukey and Dutton both finished the game 3-for-5 and Morano contributed with two hits. Dutton and Joyce both knocked in two runs for the Lions, who finished with 14 hits.
“That’s going to be the key for us,” Alexander said of the offensive output. “You’ve got to be solid 1-9. Everyone we play is pretty much going to be solid 1-9 and we have to be able to match up player for player. It was a good quality win.”
The offensive output was more than enough for Dutton, who allowed two earned runs on three hits and struck out 14.
“I just thought she was like a surgeon out there,” Alexander said. “She had very good pace in between her pitches. She’s a game-changer for us.”
Kirtland’s second run came in the fifth inning when Ava Puruczky was hit by a pitch and scored on Hostutler’s single.
Despite the loss, Kirtland coach Jamie Kamensky was pleased with how her Hornets competed throughout the game.
“I think the biggest thing is what we’re fine-tuning now has nothing to do with what we did last year with errors,” Kamensky said. “We’re fine-tuning little coverages and at the plate where we’re adjusting to hit the ball rather than watching stuff go by, so we’re in a good spot right now.”
Hostutler finished with a hit, a run, and an RBI. Boyd and Madison Matijevic also had one hit for the Hornets.
Cantini struck out three Lions.
“We set up our schedule to where we’re playing the tougher competition upfront,” Kamensky said. “That way, when we get to our conference schedule and when we get to the postseason we’ll be ready. We’re in a good spot. The whole team all the way around did well today. Everybody finally had a voice. We went from being probably the quietest team to one of the loudest and most energetic teams, and that in itself is really good to see.”