Bowling Green scored eight runs on three hits while Eastwood left 14 runners stranded as the Bobcats earned an 8-4 non-league victory over the visiting Eagles Thursday.
Of the Bobcats’ three hits, none were bigger than senior Cassidy Kroggel’s three-run line drive homer over the left-center field fence, scoring junior Makenna Oates and sophomore Zoe Ziems while capping off a five-run fifth inning.
“It was low inside and I just kept my power through and it just came off light,” Kroggel said. “I’m really happy because we have had a tough season so far even though we just started, but it has definitely gotten a lot better.”
Also getting base hits for BG in the win over the Eagles were Oates and junior Samantha Trimpey.
The win helped BG bounce back after opening with a 3-1 loss to Tinora and then getting routed by Otsego, 15-0, on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“This was a huge win for us,” BG assistant coach Tony Kramp said. “We’ve struggled in the last couple games hitting the ball. Tonight, they came out and they hit well, and pitchers took care of things. It was a little messy at times.”
Kramp and assistant coach Joe Ziems were filling in for Cassie Nauman, who is on maternity leave.
“We’re in a real rebuilding year ourselves,” Kramp said. “We have one senior who played for us last year who is back this year that’s got varsity experience, and we only have three juniors back, so it’s been a huge rebuilding for us.”
Pitching for the Bobcats were Ziems and senior Meghan Kramp, who combined to strike out seven, but walked 11 batters while giving up six hits. Of Eastwood’s four runs, only three were earned thanks to two errors.
Kramp walked Eastwood’s first four batters of the first inning, forcing in one run, and three more in the second, but the Eagles left the bases loaded in both innings. She struck out six batters while walking nine through three innings.
Eastwood got five innings in the circle from junior Cassie Kieper and two from freshman Mackenzie Hady, but they were the victim of three errors as only three of eight BG runs were charged against them. They combined to strike out six but walked eight.
At the plate, Eastwood senior Delaney Maynard was 2-for-2 with a double, RBI, and two walks and seniors Jessyca Smith, Grace Kingery, freshman Mackenzie Grover and Hady had base hits.
However, timely hits for the Eagles were lacking.
“We had no clutch hits today,” Eastwood coach Joe Wyant said. “We had the bases loaded twice but can’t get a hit with no outs. We can’t leave 14 on during a seven-inning ballgame.
“We made a couple errors that prolonged that one inning where they got five (runs). We just struck out too many times. We just didn’t play well.
“I thought we had a really good team this year. Hats off to them. We doubled them in hits, but they got eight runs on three hits. All pitchers struggled today with wild pitches on both teams,” Wyant continued. “It wasn’t clean played at all.”
Eastwood is coming off a 21-6 season with seven returning lettermen, including Maynard at catcher, Kieper in the circle, junior Lilly Escobedo in left field, Smith in center field, sophomore Ady Bowe at shortstop, Kingery at second base, and senior Kate Oestreich in right field.
Maynard (.524 BA, 41 RBIS, 40 runs, six home runs, 24 extra base hits) was first team All-Northern Buckeye Conference, all-district, and All-Ohio last year.
Kieper (21-6, 229 K, 2.13 ERA), Escobedo (.495, 39 RBIs) and Smith (.495, 47 R, 16 EBH) were first team All-NBC and all-district, Bowe (.449, 47 R, 14 EBH) was first team All-NBC, and Kingery (.340) and Oestrich (.350) were second team All-NBC.
As far as Maynard, Escobedo, Smith and Bowe, Wyant says, “All four had a great year hitting last year and only got bigger and stronger.”
Kieper has won 42 games in the circle over the past two years, and she had solid support last year from top defensive players Maynard, Smith and Kingery. Maynard will play NCAA Division II softball at Ashland University next year and Smith will play NAIA softball at Lourdes University.
Other top newcomers this year are Hady at third baseman and freshman Caitlyn Stiner and Grover at first base.
Despite Thursday’s loss, Wyant expects the Eagles to be a league contender and at least finish among the top two in the NBC. He also believes his team can compete for a district title.
“The NBC is a very good league this year any of the top five teams can win on any day,” Wyant said. “We have seven starters back and team chemistry seems very good. We have a lack of depth with only a total of 15 players out this year, and four are freshmen.:
This is Wyant’s 15th year coaching at Eastwood, where he sports a 316-82 record. Overall, he has coached 21 years (416-136). His teams have won nine league titles, seven district titles and one regional title that earned his team a bid to the state final four.