Rangers outslug Brush to collect first win

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Kirsten Luksic

First-year North coach Taylor Braddock isn’t used to losing.

She dominated the Northeast Ohio high school softball circuit on the way to being named the 2014 News Herald Player of the Year, but things haven’t gone as planned in her first spring as a head coach, at least until Tuesday when the Rangers won at Brush, 16-11, to give Braddock her first career victory.

“It was nice to finally get a win,” Braddock said. “I kept telling the girls we dug ourselves into a hole and we needed to climb out one game at a time and this was a good start.”

The Rangers opened the season with six losses in Myrtle Beach then returned home with an 8-5 loss to the Arcs on Monday.

They responded by pounding out 11 hits, including four for extra bases, to snap that losing skid.

“The girls didn’t hang their heads at all,” Braddock said. “If anything, they had revenge in their eyes. They knew hitting needed to come around and the bats woke up today.”

Brush struck first with three runs in the bottom of the first but the Rangers tied it in the second and scored four in the third to take a 7-3 lead.

Hannah Harris got things going in the second with a one-out single and Kirsten Luksic and Mikaela Miller both drew two-out walks to set the stage for Jess Dodd, who cleared the bases with the first of her two triples.

“I just had to clear my head and just have fun up at the plate,” Dodd said. “Once I did that, everything fell into play. It boosts my confidence a lot knowing what I’m capable of and how to get it. We just gotta’ keep up the good hard work and it’ll keep showing.”

Two errors and a fielder’s choice helped the Rangers to load the bases with no outs in the third. Harris, who finished 3-for-5, and Val Arnold, who had two hits, then hit back-to-back singles.

Christy Southard led off the fourth with a single and scored on Mikaela Fording’s sacrifice fly to give the Rangers an 8-4 lead.

North added four runs in both the fifth and sixth innings.

Fording doubled and Samantha Pirosko tripled in the fifth and Arnold and Miller both hit singles in the sixth. Dodd tripled in the sixth and scored on a wild pitch.

“The difference from (Monday) to today was that we put the ball in play and executed our bunts,” Braddock said. “We’ve been stressing to put pressure on the defense and they did that today and it worked. The girls really made me feel special after that first win in my career; they congratulated me but I gave it right back because they earned that win.”

Luksic allowed 11 runs in 5 1/3 innings of work but just three of them were earned. She also struck out six in picking up the win. Lexie Genter didn’t allow a hit and struck out two in relief.

“Pitching fell behind a little and needed to pitch ahead in the count but our defense needs to be tightened up behind them,” Braddock said. “We have to make the routine plays and right now we’re not making all of them.”

North travels to Mayfield on Thursday.

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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.