ATTICA - Seneca East coach Jerry Hassinger said it wasn't the best game his pitcher Rachel Bauman pitched this year. Bauman even labeled her performance as "average."
Lakota coach Chris Chalfin might disagree.
Wednesday, Bauman shut down Chalfin's Raiders, going the distance in the circle, striking out eight while allowing just three hits and a pair of unearned runs in a 4-2 Tiger triumph.
"Their pitcher pitched really well and we were struggling to keep up with her really," Chalfin said. "I think we only had three hits; credit to her.
"She was just throwing hard. We were struggling to keep up with her most of the game. And she'd change speeds, but the biggest thing was her speed. And I knew that from last year. She was a good pitcher last year and obviously she didn't go backwards."
Bauman didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning and whenever she got in trouble she worked herself out of it. In the fifth inning, Lakota got the first two runners on base via a walk and a hit batter. But Bauman got a strikeout, a pop out to the catcher and a ground out to end the inning.
"I just had my team backing me up with defense and that made it easier for me to pitch I think," Bauman said. "I feel like I had an average game; it could've been better. I had a few walks and stuff, but for the most part I felt confident."
The Tigers took a 4-0 lead into the sixth where Lakota finally got some offense going. Alaina Bickford started things with her second base hit of the day, then with two outs, sister Aubrey reached base on an error. Aspen Ray brought both home with a double to center cutting Seneca East's lead in half.
Bauman, though, quelled the rally by getting Bree Long-Meyer to ground out first. Bauman closed things out sitting the Raiders down in order in the seventh, and recorded the final put-out after a comebacker to the circle.
"I thought Rachel pitched a real good game," Hassinger said. "She's a competitor and I thought she did a real good job. I think she pitched well, but I don't think this the best game shes pitched all year. But it's a lot better than she has been pitching. She really took a big step forward and I think the whole team did, I really do."
Bauman helped her own cause with her bat. In the first inning with a runner on, she singled to left. The throw back to the infield got away from the catcher, and Lauren Sprenger motored around the bases for the game's first run.
The score remained the same into the fourth when Bauman led off the inning with a double to the fence in left center igniting the rally that proved the difference in the game.
"For me, the best thing to do is not to think and just do it," Bauman said of her mindset at the plate. "Like my coach Jerry says, I just go up there and I don't think about hitting at all, I just go up and hit."
Caitlin Sauers followed up with a walk, but it appeared as if Raider pitcher Morgan Gangwer might escape the inning damage-free. She recorded the next two outs, including a diving catch of a bunt attempt just in front of home plate.
But after getting ahead of Alyssa England 1-2, a passed ball scored courtesy runner C.J. Linkey and England fouled off several pitches before finally grounding one back up the middle that ricocheted off the mound and was good for an infield single scoring Sauers.
Marisa Twigg doubled to left to score England for a 4-0 lead.
"They seemed tonight, they came through when they had to come through," Hassinger said. "They kind of scared me a few times and I'm getting grayer now, but they really stepped up. Hopefully they're stepping up at the right time. We play tournament next Wednesday and two more games this week. ... They definitely took some steps forward tonight. I'm proud of the way they did. They've been working hard, great kids."
Seneca East improved to 11-7, 3-4 Midland Athletic League while Lakota drops to 10-7, 3-4.
Chalfin said he was pleased with his team's effort, and is looking to clean up a few things with tournaments right around the corner.
"I thought we played well, played hard," he said. "We made a lot of nice plays, a lot of effort plays that I was really pleased with. Even thought we got beat, I'm happy with the fact that we gave a lot of effort.
"After tonight, obviously we got to hit the ball better; we only scored two runs. It's really hard to win when you only score a couple runs. We play like we did tonight, only hit the ball a little bit better, we can be a pretty good team. Hopefully, that's what we see when tournament time rolls around."