A home Tuesday doubleheader with the Crusaders of Unity Christian at the Sports Park became a road trip for the Lady Sailors due to rain that made the South Christian field unplayable. In spite of the Crusaders undergoing a rebuilding year, they gave the Sailors all they could handle in two close games. As often happens when these two rivals meet, the games are close, and the innings filled with suspense; today would be no different.
Game one opened with the visiting Sailors going out 1-2-3 in each of the first two innings, as the Unity hurler mixed her pitches and used all quadrants of the strike zone.
Unity put up a run against Kendra Kuiper in the first on a one out walk, grounder to third, and a single through the left side. In the second, the Sailors gave up the Crusaders’ second run on a costly error, and it would prove to be the game winner. After a one out fielder’s choice, Unity had a runner on first and two out. The number nine batter then lined a 2-2 single to left, but the Sailor left fielder failed to get in front of the ball, and it rolled to the fence, allowing the runner on first to score. After 2 innings – Crusaders 2, Sailors 0.
The Lady Sailors got on the board in the fourth, with what would be their only run of the game. Lauren Teitsma blooped a one out single over second base, and came home when Maddy Baar laced a line drive double to the right center field fence. However, Baar was stranded on a strikeout and comebacker to the pitcher. That run was the final score of the game, as Kuiper kept Unity off the scoreboard over the final four innings, scattering three hits and a walk, while striking out 4 Crusaders.
Overall, Kuiper gave up only 6 hits, and tallied 5 Ks, and 2 free passes. She allowed 2 runs, only 1 of which was earned, and took the tough-luck loss. Her season record is now even at 5-5, sporting a 3.02 ERA. The Lady Sailors managed only 4 hits for the game, and stranded 3 runners.
Game two featured Hannah Wohlfert in the circle for the Sailors, who would be the home team for the night cap. Unity wasted little time getting on the board in the top of the first, with a one out, wind-aided fly ball that landed beyond the center field fence. However, the Sailors counter-punched, with a Kuiper single, stolen base, wild pitch, and an RBI groundout by Teitsma. After one inning – Sailors 1, Crusaders 1.
South took the lead with a run in the bottom of the second. Maddy Baar led off with a single, and moved to second on a wild pitch. Alyssa Barbrick then hit a grounder to the left side, but the Unity shortstop misplayed the ball, and Baar rounded third and headed home. Sailors 2, Crusaders 1.
Unity came back to take the lead in the third, scoring a pair of runs, via a leadoff single, walk, sacrifice bunt, and then a big 2 run double into left field. After three, Crusaders 3, Sailors 2.
The see-saw battle had one more chapter, as South plated 2 runs of its’ own in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Baar walked before Sydney Nyenhuis and Barbrick followed with back-to-back singles. Barbrick picked up an RBI when Baar scored. Dionna Brummel followed with a groundout to short, scoring Nyenhuis, before Barbrick was thrown out at third base on the play for the final out. After 4 innings – Sailors 4, Crusaders 3.
Wohlfert would go 5 innings, yielding 5 hits, 1 walk, and 3 earned runs. Her defense helped her out in the fifth when after a leadoff single, Teitsma cut down the would-be Crusader thief with a strike of her own thrown to second baseman Esther Vander Mey, who applied the tag in front of second base. She gave way to Kuiper in the sixth inning to preserve the Sailor victory.
Kuiper put the Crusaders out in order in the sixth – courtesy of a defensive gem. Right fielder Alyssa Barbrick fielded a would-be single and fired a strike to Baar at first base that beat the batter-runner to first base.
In the seventh, the Sailors clung to their one run lead, seeking redemption with a win and a split of the doubleheader. Kuiper surrendered a leadoff single, and the runner moved to second base on a groundout to the circle. The next batter, number nine in the Crusader order, squared up Kuiper’s first pitch, and lined a single to left field. Ella Koster, who came into left field as a late inning defensive replacement, fielded the ball and heaved it toward home plate as the Crusader runner was rounding third and heading home with the tying run. Koster’s throw was more like a heat-seeking missile, out ahead of the runner’s path to the plate. Teitsma came out from behind home plate and up the baseline to corral the throw on one hop. Unity’s runner, who was still too far away from home plate to begin her slide, ran into Teitsma’s tag for the put out. At this, the Sailor fans erupted with cheers at the sparkling defensive play – while the otherwise boisterous Unity cheering section was just as suddenly silenced when their final bid to tie the game was abruptly snuffed out. Now with two out and a runner on second base, Kuiper calmly induced an 0-1 bouncer back to her glove, and she calmly flipped the ball to first base – closing out the inning and recording a 2-inning save of Wohlfert’s 4-3 Sailor victory.
With the split, the Sailors’ record now stands at 14 – 10.
Next up for the Sailors are the 2017 Division 3 State Finalists, the Calvin Christian Squires. The OK Silver favorite Squires will host our Lady Sailors on Thursday in Grandville.
On Saturday, the Sailors will wrap up the week’s action with a 3-game tournament hosted by Otsego on Saturday. First pitch, 10 am.