Unbeaten Frazier fine-tunes game in win over St. Joseph

Saturday, April 27, 2024 | 12:28 AM

It took Frazier two more innings to defeat St. Joseph, 11-1, Friday than it did in their first contest, but coach Don Hartman appreciated the chance to play more live defense against the Spartans.

“The first time around, we beat St. Joseph in three innings, and I think we kind of let down a little bit today,” Hartman said. “They’ve gotten better for sure, and the last few days they’ve seen Jeannette’s ace, so they’ve been used to speed. They put the bat on the ball today, which I’m happy about because we needed to play some live defense.

“We blundered a few things. We had some pressure on when it was 3-1, and I told the girls, ‘I’m glad this is happening right now. Let’s play some softball.’ In the last two innings, we adjusted to the speed of their pitcher and started hitting the ball like we normally do.”

Frazier (8-0, 8-0) scored eight of its runs in those final two innings as Addison Hiles, Grace Vaughn and Claire Domonkos each had three hits. Hiles earned the victory in the circle after allowing four hits and one run in five innings.

St. Joseph (1-8) was led by two hits from Anna Kreinbrook, including a double. Ava Roxberry also managed a double and an RBI. Ashley Vrscak was charged with the loss after going 4⅓ innings, allowing 13 hits and 11 runs.

“Our girls battle all the time. They don’t quit, no matter what the score is,” Spartans coach Don Noonan said. “We try to go as many innings as we can against a strong team like Frazier. We have four or five games left, and we’re going to enjoy them as much as we can while playing as hard as we can.”

The Commodores wasted no time getting on the board, plating three runs in the first inning.

After Hiles blew through the Spartans lineup, she opened things up with a triple to right before Gracen Hartman was hit by a pitch. They both scored on a triple from Vaughn to quickly make it 2-0.

Emi Bednar grounded out but managed to score Vaughn before the end of the first frame to make the score 3-0.

With two outs in the top of the second, St. Joseph’s Kreinbrook managed to drive a double to right center and reached third on a throwing error. She was stranded, however, as Hiles managed to strike out Ava Roxberry to retire the side.

The Commodores also stranded a runner on third in the bottom of the second as Domonkos doubled and stole third. St. Joseph pitcher Ashley Vrscak managed to force three straight outs to get out of the second unscathed as the score remained 3-0.

In the bottom of the third, Vaughn singled on a blooper to shallow left center before stealing second and reaching third on an error, but she wasn’t brought in as Frazier retained its 3-0 lead.

The Spartans opened their account in the fourth with a run, and it could’ve been two if not for an impressive defensive play from Maddie Salisbury.

With one out, Kreinbrook singled to Salisbury in right. Maria Kuhns looked to score from second on the play, but Salisbury’s throw beat her to the plate and Bednar tagged her for St Joseph’s second out.

The Spartans ultimately managed to score when Roxberry doubled to score Vrscak and make it 3-1.

The Commodores got together as a team and had a spirited discussion before taking the plate in the bottom of the fourth, and they responded to allowing their second run of the entire season with a five-run frame.

Malayna Burton, Salisbury, Hiles, Hartman and Vaughn managed to cross home plate to suddenly give the Commodores an 8-1 advantage.

Hiles ended the contest with a two-run single, but it was Bednar who stole the show to start the bottom of the fifth with an inside-the-park home run. She hit a long flyball to right field that bounced to the fence and managed to beat the tag at home plate as the Spartans couldn’t get the ball in immediately.

Moving forward for St. Joseph, Noonan says that he will continue to encourage his seniors as they look to finish the season on a positive note.

“My message to them is that you’re going to have times in your life where you learn lessons on the softball field that will follow you the rest of your life,” he said. “Things aren’t always going to go your way, but it’s how you react to it that matters, whether it be in softball, in college, or in life. I think they’ve reacted very positively this season, and I’m proud of them for it.”

As for the Commodores, they will look to continue stacking wins together down the final stretch of the regular season.

“Ultimately, this was a good learning experience and a good win for our team,” Hartman said. “I’m excited for Monday (at Jeannette). We’re 8-0, but we’ve only played six games (because of two forfeit wins against Springdale). We should’ve had these six games in March. It’s getting kind of late for us, but we’re going to try and catch up as much as we can.”

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