North struggled on Tuesday to match up with Madison pitcher Alyssa Lavdis in a 4-3 loss. The Rangers adjusted their approach and on Wednesday they bounced back with a 7-6 win over the Blue Streaks to earn a split in the season series.
“The girls came out today swinging and that’s what we asked for,” said North coach Taylor Braddock. “We had less looking strikeouts and that’s the one thing we asked the girls to improve on from yesterday’s game and they delivered. They played hard and tough all seven innings.”
Lavdis fanned 14 on Tuesday with eight Rangers watching the third strike. The Rangers struck out 10 times on Wednesday but only two batters watched the final strike pass the plate.
The improvement likely was due in part to the confidence the Rangers gained by scoring three runs in the first inning.
Adri George opened the game with a single and Dori Siekaniec followed with a walk. Olivia Augusta, who hit a three-run homer on Tuesday, doubled to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead. Hailie Wilson followed with a double that scored Augusta.
The Ranger lead was short-lived as Madison responded with three in the bottom half of the inning.
Lavdis hit a one-out single and moved to third on Hallie Blackford’s double. Emili Blackie followed with a double to cut North’s lead to 3-2 and then she scored on Lexie Nicholson’s double to tie the game.
The Rangers outscored the Blue Streaks the rest of the way, 4-3.
“Both teams came out swinging today,” Braddock said. “We both scored three in the first so it put us back at an even game. Each inning we just wanted to push one across, anything beyond that was a bonus. Mentally, the girls were in the game today and it showed with better at-bats.”
Jess Dodd drew a walk to start North’s two-run fourth inning and she scored on Emily Zaleski’s double. Zaleski moved to third on Aly Hall’s single and she scored on a passed ball.
Wilson’s leadoff double in the fifth gave the Rangers a 6-3 lead when she scored on Zaleski’s single.
Madison tied it again with three runs in the bottom of the inning.
Nadia Cruz reached on an error, Lavdis singled, and Blackie hit a two-out home run to center.
North scored the game-winner with two outs in the sixth inning.
Siekaniec walked with one out and was thrown out at the plate trying to score on Augusta’s second double of the game. Wilson singled on the first pitch she saw to score Augusta, who stranded a Madison runner in both the sixth and seventh innings to seal the win.
August allowed three earned runs on 10 hits and struck out four. At the plate, she was 2-for-4 with two doubles and two runs batted in.
“Liv pitched her heart out these last two games,” Braddock said. “She threw a lot of pitches in two days but she kept her composure and did what she was there to do. She trusted her defense and pitched her game.”
Wilson finished the game 3-for-4 and Dodd and Zaleski both finished with two hits.
With the win, North improved to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the rugged Western Reserve Conference.
“The WRC is a tough conference,” Braddock said. “Lavdis is one of the best around on the mound, so getting the ‘W’ today was a huge confidence booster for us.”