The rainstorm stopped minutes before the start of the March 20 softball game between crosstown rivals Shorecrest and Shorewood.
But it was the bats of the Shorecrest players that provided the thunder during the bottom of the first inning.
The Scots scored five runs on five hits in the opening inning and hung on to beat Shorewood 7-6 for their first win of the season.
Senior shortstop Alanna Schade knocked in two runs with a single, and freshman third baseman Chelsey Doyle drove in three on a double to right-center to spark the Scots.
“It’s the best we’ve played all season,” Schade said. “It’s amazing. I’m so happy.”
Schade, who went 3-for-4 and scored two runs, also drove in Courtnee Bryant with what proved to be a huge insurance run in the sixth. Shorewood pitcher Olivia Jacobs walked Bryant to start the inning then retired the next two batters when Schade stepped up. Schade worked the count full and then ripped a shot into right field.
“We were determined not to throw her one she could hit. She went out and hit an outside drop ball that was off the plate and hit it by the first baseman for the winning run,” Shorewood coach Tom Rizzuto said. “I have to tip my hat to her. She hurt us last year and she hurt us again this year.”
Shorewood cut into the lead with three runs in the second, and single runs in the third, fifth and seventh innings. But what stands out is this: Shorecrest pitcher Annie Collins issued 11 walks and Shorewood rapped nine hits, but the Thunderbirds left 14 runners on base. Shorewood drew five walks in the second inning alone and got a key two-run single from Jacobs, but ended up leaving the bases loaded for the second inning in a row.
Shorewood hit the ball hard all night and had a great chance to tie the game in the sixth. Kayla McCarthy led off with a single and Matreya Vanous followed with a single. With two on and nobody out, Amanda Olsen, who flew out deep to center in her previous at-bat, stroked a single to center. McCarthy rounded third and barreled toward home but Shorecrest center fielder Elisabeth Hoffman knocked the ball down, fired the ball home and nailed McCarthy at the plate. Collins retired the next two batters and once again Shorewood came up empty.
Jacobs, a sophomore, summed it up this way: “I think except for the first inning we played a solid game. If the first inning hadn’t counted, we would have had the game. It’s all right. We were all a little disappointed but we’re confident we’ll get them next time.”
Collins, who played shortstop last year and took over pitching duties in a pinch this season, didn’t get some calls on close pitches, Schade said, but got outs when she needed to.
“She’s got a poker face like no other,” Schade said. “She hung in there.”
Shorecrest coach Janessa Karstens offered this take on Collins performance.
“The more she can learn to trust her defense, the better that we’ll do. I know she gave it everything she had. I never doubt that.”
The difference in the game, however, was the offensive explosion in the first inning.
The Scots made changes in their offensive approach in practice the day before and that paid off.
“I’m really proud of them just because they came in really open minded and just ready to make some adjustments and brought it to the plate. They were huge,” Karstens said.