MONROE — Arlington’s Ronnie Ladines did a little bit of everything Tuesday afternoon, providing all the offense — and defense — her softball team needed.
Ladines hit a two-run home run in the top of the first inning and then took the mound for Arlington and struck out 14 Monroe batters, helping the Eagles defeat the Bearcats 5-0 in a Wesco North game pitting two of the top teams in the conference.
“I’m very excited,” said Arlington head coach Lonnie Hicks. “We knew it was going to be a tough game. (Monroe has) been playing good softball.”
Hicks said that everyone in his entire lineup — from the leadoff batter to No. 9 hitter — is capable of contributing and getting a big hit.
“Every game someone on the team picks us up,” Hicks said.
Tuesday, it was Ladines. In the top of the first inning, Ladines hit the ball over the left field fence for a two-run home run.
It turned out Ladines was just getting started. In the bottom of the inning, she struck out two batters and allowed a hit. Ladines allowed one more hit the rest of the way and finished the game striking out the side in the bottom of the seventh, giving her 14 for the day.
“Ronnie just pitched outstanding,” Hicks said. “Ronnie’s gonna keep us in the games.”
Ladines (7-1) is averaging about 13 strikeouts per game, Hicks said, and added: “All we have to do is get her a couple of runs and she’ll be okay. She’s throwing lights out this year.”
Katelyn McDonald drove in two runs with a single in the top of the third inning, and Eagles catcher Lynsey Amundson added an RBI-single in the fifth to give Arlington a five-run cushion.
The five-run lead helped Hicks feel pretty secure in the dugout.
“I never think the game’s over until that last out,” Hicks said. “Anything can happen. … But there’d have to be some major catastrophe to dump five runs the way (Ladines) was throwing.”
Ladines batted 1-for-2 with two walks, two RBI and two runs scored. Arlington’s Hayley Fields hit 2-for-4 and also scored two runs. One of her hits shot right up the middle at Monroe pitcher Alyssa Egan, who put her glove out to protect herself and knocked the ball down.
McDonald (2-for-3) hit a double and had two RBI.
With every victory — including Tuesday’s game which was played with a constant drizzle — Arlington gets better and better, Hicks said. The coach added that his team is a very closely-knit group that help and “support each other.”
“Every game that we play we build confidence,” Hicks said. “We faced a good team today with a very good pitcher.”
Devan Larsen had Monroe’s first hit and Nicole Shavlik got the other on a bunt single in the third inning. The Bearcats were hitless the rest of the way.
The win kept Arlington undefeated in conference play (6-0) and improved the Eagles to 10-1 overall.
Hicks said that his team established a series of goals at the beginning of the season. The first was to win the league. The next goal was to win districts. Finally, Arlington’s ultimate goal is to place in the state tournament.
“We take it one step at a time,” Hicks said. “We play every team as if they’re the best team.”
The Bearcats (4-3, 7-4) are one of the teams that hope to challenge the Eagles for the Wesco North crown. There’s still plenty of time for Monroe to catch Arlington. The two teams play again May 9 at Arlington.
Hicks knows their next meeting will be another battle.
“They’re going to be better prepared, so we’ve got to be better prepared, too,” Hicks said.
At Sky River Park
Ronnie Ladines and Lynsey Amundson. Alyssa Egan and Rachael Delamare. WP–Ladines (7-1). LP–Egan. 2B–Katelyn McDonald (A). HR–Ladines (A). Records–Arlington 6-0 league, 10-1 overall. Monroe 4-3, 7-4.