Wins were in short supply during Haley Adams’ first three seasons at Cardinal.
Following the Huskies’ 9-3 win at Cuyahoga Heights on Tuesday, the senior catcher and her teammates improved to 5-6 overall and 3-4 in Chagrin Valley Conference play. The five wins have already matched their total from last season and the Huskies have at least nine games left to play this spring.
“It's a true blessing to be getting huge victories like these tonight,” Adams said. “I am super proud of the girls bouncing back from a tough loss to (Kirtland on Monday). It shows our growth and maturity.”
Adams is right.
In the past, one lost turned into two and the Huskies always seemed to have trouble putting an end to those losing streaks.
That isn’t the case this year.
The Huskies have lost back-to-back games only once, not counting the loss in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader at Garrettsville Garfield when Cardinal’s junior varsity filled the lineup.
Tuesday’s win against the Redskins might be the most impressive of Cardinal’s wins, dating back several years.
Sure, the Redskins are rebuilding after winning the Division IV state title in 2014 and reaching the Final Four last year, but Cuyahoga Heights is still a formidable opponent and has on its roster one of the state’s most potent hitters in senior third baseman Dayna Denner, an Ashland University signee.
“This was the best game we played all season,” said Cardinal coach Dennis Ikeler. “These girls were just phenomenal tonight.”
Cardinal’s players were as focused as they have been all season, probably to avoid a letdown like the one they experienced when they gave up seven runs in the top of the seventh inning in an 18-16 loss to the Redskins last Wednesday.
“I don’t know what clicked but everybody played great tonight,” Ikeler said.
The Huskies kicked off their win with two runs in the top of the first.
Megan Baril and Allissa Nevison led off the game with back-to-back doubles off Cuyahoga Heights pitcher Sam Rodriguez. Baril scored on Nevison’s two-bagger and Nevison came home on Delaney Leichtman’s single.
The Redskins got one back in the bottom half of the inning but the Huskies extended their lead to 5-1 with a run in the third and two in the fourth.
Baril and Nevison bptj walked to open the third and Leichtman singled to load the bases. Dawn Scribben then singled to score Baril.
Madysin Ciminello singled and scored in the fourth and Faith Peters walked and scored on a single by Nevison.
The Huskies broke it open with four runs in the fifth.
Anne Rupinski doubled to start the rally and moved to third on Ciminello’s single. Hannah Hill walked to load the bases and Peters tripled to make it 8-1. Baril singled home Peters to close out the scoring for Cardinal.
Cuyahoga Heights added two runs in the bottom of the fifth but Ciminello shut down the Redskins in the final two innings to preserve the win.
Ciminello allowed three runs on seven hits and struck out six.
“She did a nice job,” Ikeler said. “She struggled with her hip but she battled through it and threw a nice game. She’s a freshman but she’s just building her confidence up. Her and Haley are playing the role of pitcher and catcher together. They’re clicking and that’s a big help for her.”
Leichtman led the Huskies with four hits. Baril and Nevison both had three hits and Nevison and Peters led Cardinal with three runs batted in. Rupinski had two hits for the Huskies.
Leichtman got off to a slow start this season but she has 13 hits in her last five games and has boosted her batting average to .500 on the year.
“I had a higher level of confidence this game because the last time we played them I also hit well and each game I become more confident at the plate and I'm learning to have fun while I'm at it,” she said. “I felt as if we needed to come out strong today and prove to them that we are the better team. We all played with so much heart and there wasn't one play or at bat that anyone hung their head about.”
The Huskies travel to Independence on Wednesday.