WILLOUGHBY—Sarah Sutton hit a pair of home runs as Chardon pounced on host South in a Western Reserve Conference showdown on Wednesday, 11-1.
Sutton hit a solo shot in the third and a three-run shot in the sixth to help the Hilltoppers improve to 7-3 overall and 2-0 in the WRC.
“It felt really nice,” Sutton said. “I like helping my team out. I’ve been struggling the past couple games. It feels really good to be back.”
The Hilltoppers hadn’t played a game in nearly a week but no rust was apparent.
“It was great and the kids played well,” said Chardon coach Stewart Landies. “We’ve been playing really good defense and that’s been helping. Sydney (Murray) has been pitching really good and she only gave up one run today but gave up a couple of walks. The defense helped us recover from that, and when the top five hits the way our top five has been hitting, good things are going to happen.”
Chardon scraped out a run in the top of the first when Grace Legan reached on an error and scored on Sutton’s RBI single.
Legan sparked a two-run third when she led off with a double and scored on Amy O’Brien’s ground out. Sutton followed with her solo shot.
Mackenzie Kilpeck sparked a four-run inning when she opened the fourth with a single. Legan later singled with two outs, Sidney Nagaj drew a walk, and O’Brien singled to push Chardon’s lead to 7-0.
South threatened in the fifth inning but after Grace Woodcock drew a two-out walk, O’Brien robbed Alyssa Tekavec of an extra-base hit with a diving catch in the right-center gap.
Nagaj and O’Brien both singled to set up Sutton’s three-run shot in the sixth.
“I think she went into the season expecting what happened last year to just happen again,” Landies said of Sutton, who had a breakout year in 2021. “She hasn’t really been down, and if anything, she has just been working harder and it paid off today.”
South manufactured a run in the bottom of the sixth to avoid the run rule.
Emma Woolnough hit a one-out single but was caught stealing second. Ryan Wallace then drew a walk and Alexa Cesar single to put runners on first and second with two outs. Allyson Leskiewicz then delivered an RBI single to right to cut the Rebel deficit to just nine runs heading into the seventh.
Josie LoCoco hit a two-out single and scored on Legan’s triple to close out the Chardon scoring.
Legan matched Sutton’s three hits as she finished the game 3-for-5 with a double and a triple, three runs scored, and two RBI. O’Brien and Madison Zombory both added two hits for the Hilltoppers.
Murray went the distance in the circle. She allowed one earned run on five hits and fanned nine.
“This is a young team and for them to be playing like this, that’s mature softball, I’m excited,” Landies said. “We still have the toughest part of our schedule in front of us and I don’t know what’s going to happen there, but I’m really happy with the way we’ve been playing.”
Woolnough was 2-for-3 for the Rebels and Tekavec, Cesar, and Leskiewicz each finished with one hit.
Chardon travels to Riverside on Thursday for a key conference game against the Beavers.