MIDDLEFIELD—After a slow start to the 2015 season, Kirtland’s offense has the Hornets playing more like the team that was ranked among the state’s best in 2014. The Hornets opened the season with two straight losses but with Tuesday’s 14-2 win at Cardinal have won five straight to improve to 5-2 on the year.
The Hornets have scored 69 runs during that five-game winning streak.
“We’ve been working a lot on our hitting and we’re getting production from 1-9. That’s a big difference from what he had early in the season,” said Kirtland coach Tony Scibelli. “From 1-9 we’re confident they can advance the runners. That’s job No. 1. No. 2 is they have a really good shot at getting on base whether it’s via walk or a hit. We’re doing all the right things and we’re peaking at the right time. We’re finally playing Hornet softball.”
Kirtland’s pitching also has improved.
Morgan Faber allowed just six hits and struck out four at Cardinal.
“Every game she has been getting better and better,” Scibelli said. “The key for her is she’s able to locate now a little better than she was early on and we’re playing better defense.”
The Hornets pounded out 13 hits against the Huskies, who were playing without starting pitcher Jasmine Vunak, who left Friday’s game against Berkshire with an ankle injury.
“She was a little ahead of the ball but she’s a kid that battles,” Scibelli said of Steigerwald. “She can be way ahead of the ball for the first two strikes and still be right on it for the third strike and that’s what happened.”
“We talked about three of our bottom of the order hitters, Rebecca, Danielle Meyer and Danielle Davis, and they had key hits for us and they’re doing that consistently,” Scibelli said. “Now we can score every inning.”
The Huskies struggled to put the ball in play early against Faber but began making contact midway through the contest and pushed across two runs.
“We were making some contact today,” said Cardinal coach Dennis Ikeler. “It was a little bit too late but that last inning that was a JV player, Nevison, that stepped up. Her speed on the bases helped us out and scored that last run.”
Cardinal still seeks its first win of the season but the Huskies have shown signs they’re headed in the right direction.
“We played a little bit more confident today than we did in the past,” Ikeler said. “We have to keep our heads up and keep going.”
Despite a rough outing against the Hornets, Megan Baril was capable in filling in for Vunak in the circle.
“Megan did a really nice job for us,” Ikeler said. “She stayed tough and pitched well considering the circumstances. She got tossed in there last Friday and is going to have to carry us this week with Jasmine being down. You could tell she got frustrated a couple times but all in all she did a really nice job.”
With Baril in the circle Ikeler was forced to call up Christina Pemberton from the JV squad to play third base. She didn’t have many opportunities to make plays but she did display her toughness when she returned to the game after being drilled on the knee by a line drive off Ward’s bat.
“She took a shot in the knee, right on the knee cap,” Ikeler said. “She’s a tough kid. She jumped back out there and stayed out there and played more innings. I give her all the credit in the world for staying in there after that shot.”
Kirtland hosts Harvey on Wednesday while Cardinal hosts Berkshire.