Thursday, August 18, 2022

Blue Devils open title defense with big win over Berkshire

Independence opened the defense of its Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division title on Wednesday with a 12-2 six-inning win over visiting Berkshire.

The Blue Devils got off to a slow start but scored three runs in both the third and fourth innings then finished off the Badgers with a six-run sixth.

“The first time through the lineup was unimpressive,” said Independence coach Mallory Kobak. “We were swinging at the wrong pitches. As time went on and we got to see the pitcher more, we started to put things together and string along some runs.”

Berkshire struck first when Asya Martin and Catherine Lillibridge drew back-to-back walks to lead off the third.

A double play nearly ended the threat but Casey Sinkenbring singled and Lillibridge scored on an error.

The Blue Devils responded in the bottom half of the inning when Kim Rega hit a solo home run to tie the game.

“That at-bat, I felt comfortable even though I didn’t make it on base my first time around,” Rega said. “I had hit a line drive up the middle and knew I just needed to place it differently. I went up looking for my pitch and I found it. It was a fastball up the middle and it felt great to feel the pop off the bat. I’m super excited to get my first homer of the season.”

Sarah Piteo then singled and Maggie George doubled her home. George, who finished the game 2-for-3 with two doubles and three runs batted in, scored on a passed ball to give the Blue Devils a 3-1 lead.

“I knew that I needed to help my team and put runs on the board,” George said. “Once I got to my second at-bat, I was comfortable and was ready to drive some runs in. I tried to be as aggressive as I could on the bases and I’m glad that I could help the team and help continue the great momentum we have.”

Cheyanne Bosse opened the fourth with a single and later scored on Hailey Gifford’s single to pull the Badgers to within 3-2.

Again, the Blue Devils responded with a three-run inning.

Olivia Pallini doubled to start the rally and Ashley Caputo and Neenah Costanzo hit back-to-back singles. Jenna Suhy singled home Pallini and Rega doubled to clear the bases.

Independence used three hits, four walks, and an error to score the final six runs in the bottom of the sixth.

Rega and Trombetta both singled in the inning while George hit her second double of the game.

“Everyone did their job today and worked together to win the ballgame,” Kobak said. “Overall, I think our captains took the lead on this game. From Kimmy Rega’s solo home run to Maggie George’s multiple hits and smart base running, we were able to pull off the win.”

Rega finished 3-for-4 with two RBI while Costanzo and Trombetta finished with two hits and two RBI each.

Piteo allowed one earned run on eight hits and struck out two to pick up the pitching win.

“Sarah stepped up today,” Kobak said. “She hit her locations well. When our opponents did hit the ball our defense was in place to record each out.”

Independence improved to 7-2 overall and 2-0 in league play. The Blue Devils travel to Cardinal on Friday.

Steve Harehttp://www.ohiovarsity.com
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes OhioVarsity.com, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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