Panthers hit throughout lineup, sweep Waupaca
Chris Caporale email@example.com
With 24 hits and 17 combined runs in Saturday’s doubleheader sweep of Waupaca at home, the Oconto Falls bats finally broke out.
Ten extra base hits, including a home run by Corrina Romandine, powered the Panthers to 10-5 and 7-5 victories.
“We started out the year, and we thought we were a little bit top-heavy with some of our power hitters, so we tried to spread out our lineup a little bit more so that we have a more balanced attack,” Oconto Falls head coach Cory Albrecht said.
After a seven-run outing in the team’s first North Eastern Conference game against Marinette, Albrecht was looking for ways to produce runs outside of the top of the order.
He moved senior Taylor Markiewicz down the lineup and move Haley Bell, a pinch hitter in the first game, into the leadoff spot and Corrina Romandine into the fifth spot.
Romandine’s home run in the third inning of the second game gave the Panthers the lead back, and Bell was 3 for 7 with two RBIs on the day.
Oconto Falls was aided by six Waupaca errors.
“We need to get outs. Our pitchers were hitting their spots, and our defense needs to back those plays up when she’s throwing good pitches,” first-year Waupaca head coach Eric Brehmer said. “They were hitting the ball where we weren’t. I mean, that’s tough.”
Only one Oconto Falls player with multiple at-bats failed to record a hit.
“I was really happy with the changes we’re making in the lineup. That was probably the biggest thing,” Albrecht said. “The girls accepted those changes, and you know, played through some of that adversity moving up and down the lineup and just went out there and took advantage of the opportunities.”
After Romandine’s homer in the third inning, Stephanie Peitersen added an RBI single to center for a 4-2 advantage. Peitersen finished the game with a team-high four RBIs.
Six more runs in the top of the fifth and sixth innings put Oconto Falls (3-3, 2-1 North Eastern Conference) up by eight before sophomore pitcher Katelyn Albrecht ran into some trouble.
Waupaca (0-3, 0-3 North Eastern Conference) strung together three hits and a fielder’s choice to make it a 10-5 game.
“We just have to start developing more of her spin pitches,” Cory Albrecht said. “We were pounding the fastballs.”
Brehmer also saw some room for improvement at the plate for his team.
“I said, ‘Let’s see a few pitches. Let the pitcher hit her spots. Let her pitch to us.’ I mean, we are going to get our pitch. We started attacking that first pitch,” Brehmer said. “We were making contact and hitting it right too them.”
After Taylor Giefer, who threw a total of 7 2/3 innings over the two games, started showing fatigue, Brehmer switched to senior Lexi Schulke.
Schulke threw the sixth inning of the opening game, allowing one run. She entered in the top of the third inning of the second game and pitched the next three innings.
“Lexi comes in with a little more power, a little more speed,” Brehmer said. “Taylor was kind of losing it at the end there, and that’s when we made that switch.
“Again, Lexi being a senior, she’s seen innings. She knows what she’s doing out there.”
Schulke allowed four earned runs on seven hits and two walks.
The Panthers’ defense committed just one error in the back-to-back games. It was a welcome sight for Albrecht, who remembers mistakes turning the tides of games throughout the early part of last season.
“Defensively, I think looking at where we were this time last year and where we are now, last year, we were counting many, many errors that were costing us games, and we have very, very few errors right now, so our physical errors are not hurting us,” Albrecht said.
Within the next week, the Panthers travel to Denmark, Luxemburg-Casco and Clintonville for NEC games
“We have higher expectations, and now that were 2-1 in the conference, and we take it one game at a time,” Albrecht said. “But we think we can compete. And that’s all were asking for.”
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Waupaca 2 0 0 0 0 2 1 5 9 0
Oconto Falls 0 3 0 2 1 1 x 7 14 0
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Oconto Falls 0 1 3 0 2 4 0 10 14 1
Waupaca 0 2 0 0 0 3 0 5 7 4