The combination of solid pitching and clutch hitting helped propel the Hubbard Eagles softball team to a doubleheader sweep of the West Branch Warriors Saturday afternoon 5-2, and 6-5. The double victories improve the Eagles to 6-3, while the Warriors drop to 4-4 on the season.
“We’re definitely very happy to be out here,” Eagles coach Joe Zagorec exclaimed after the cancelation of softball in 2020. “Last year we did play some summer ball in the high school leagues, giving our girls the opportunity to play together, and get some reps. They did a lot of work in the off-season and have gotten us ready for this season.”
“This (game) shows you what you need to work on and see how we do fighting back. Coming back from this. I think we are going to be okay, we just need to start to put things together. We’re not jelling together as a team yet. Missing a year hurts, but everybody missed a year,” Warriors coach Sis Woods commented.
The Eagles began the first game with a two-RBI double by senior third baseman Sydney Bowser to jump out to a 2-0 lead. They would add three more runs in the third inning following singles by Phoebe Rusnak and Bowser, followed by a three-run home run by junior pitcher Haley Croyle.
The Warriors would get on the scoreboard in the fourth with a lead-off double by Skyler Greeneisen followed by two walks and a passed ball. That run was all the Warriors would score in the inning, but it had the potential to have a big role in the game.
Pitcher Haley Croyle would twist her ankle on the play at the plate and have to leave the contest after the close of the frame. She would leave the game to get a precautionary x-ray on the ankle.
“She ended up getting hurt on a play at the plate on a passed ball,” Zagorec said. “I really thought that would change the momentum of the game, but our girls stepped up as a team and we were able to get the job done.”
Freshman pitcher Isabella O’Brien would close the game pitching the final three innings surrendering a run in the seventh inning on a two-out, RBI single by Jordan Anderson. Croyle and O’Brien would combine for 13 strikeouts in the contest. Anderson would suffer the loss for the Warriors.
In the second game, the Eagles broke open a 3-3 tie in the fifth inning with three hits, including an RBI double by Grace Narkum, and two Warrior throwing errors to plate three runs. That would give the Eagles a 6-3 lead. Narkum would go 4 for 4 on the day with 2 RBI’s in the contest.
The Warriors would cut the deficit down to just one run in the sixth when Jordan Anderson smacked a two-run home run over the centerfield fence to make it 6-5. But that was as close as the Warriors would get as pitcher O’Brien would retire the last four batter she faced to pick up a complete-game victory. Ryley Pittman would suffer the loss, pitching a complete game for the Warriors.
“We didn’t quit, but we had a couple of bad innings. You just can’t have that against a good team. Both of the pitchers pitched well. But we are a much better hitting team than we did today. What it came down to was the first inning, the first game, that came back to hurt us. And then the same here (second game) we gave up three runs in one inning,” Woods said.
The Eagles play again on Monday when they play at Girard. The Warriors will try to bounce back when they host Canton South on Tuesday.
HUBBARD 5, WEST BRANCH 2
HUBBARD (5-3) 203 000 0- 5 4 0
WEST BRANCH (4-3) 000 100 1 - 2 3 1
WIN: Haley Croyle (7 strikeouts and 2 walks). LOSS: Jordan Anderson (9 strikeouts and 1 walk)
HUBBARD 6, WEST BRANCH 5
HUBBARD (6-3) 012 030 0 - 6 15 0
WEST BRANCH (4-4) 110 102 0 - 5 9 2
WIN: Isabella O’Brien (11 strikeouts and 2 walks). LOSS: Ryley Pittman (4 strikeouts and 0 walks)