Big innings carried Independence past rival Cuyahoga Heights on Friday.
The Blue Devils scored seven runs in the bottom of the first and added five more in the third to defeat the Redskins, 12-5. Independence improved to 11-2 overall and 5-0 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division. The win was the ninth straight for the Blue Devils.
“Cuyahoga Heights has been our rival ever since I can remember, so winning against them always feels good,” said Independence coach Mallory Kobak. “We stacked together some solid hits in those two big innings.”
The Redskins scored three runs in the top of the first on a walk, a hit and two errors but the Blue Devils responded in a big way in the bottom half of the inning.
Kim Rega, who allowed three earned runs on four hits and struck out four, started the rally with a one-out single. Maggie George then singled with two outs, Olivia Pallini reached on a fielder’s choice and Morgan Pascarella drew a bases loaded walk to cut the Heights lead to 3-1.
Molly Dougherty’s two-out single scored George and Pallini to tie it and Ashley Caputo and Jenna Suhy also had RBI singles. Sophia Trombetta walked and scored in the inning.
“This season, our offense has improved greatly because of everyone’s hard work in the offseason,” said Olivia Pallini, who finished 2-for-4 with a double and a triple. “Adding Coach Mal to our program is one of the biggest reasons we are all doing so well. Bringing her knowledge of not only hitting but the game in general is a main factor in our hitting success.”
Caputo drew a one-out walk to kick off the five-run third. Trombetta then singled and Suhy’s sacrifice bunt left the runners at second and third with two down.
Rega cleared the bases with a single and Sarah Piteo doubled her home to give the Blue Devils a 10-3 lead. George reached on an error and Pallini tripled to close out the inning.
“It was super exciting to be able to contribute to putting runs on the board, especially being down in the first inning and against our rival,” Pallini said. “This game was a huge confidence booster for me offensively because I had to make the adjustment to the outside pitches being thrown to me.”
The Redskins scored two in the sixth but Rega and the Blue Devils shut them down in the seventh to record the win.
“Heights has a lot of young talent on their team and have a bright future ahead of them,” Kobak said. “We are excited to play them again at their place in May.”
Independence hosts Kirtland on Monday.