After losing eight of its first 12 games, Holy Cross’ softball team is starting to heat up.
With Tuesday night’s 3-0 victory over visiting Manual, the Cougars have won four of their past five games.
“We’re continuing the same process that we have been on all year,” Holy Cross head coach Tony Young said. “We’re believing in the process. The season is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s not the best team in March that wins; it’s not the best team in April that wins; it’s the best team in May and June. We’re working on being the best team in May and June and we’re starting to string things together.”
A 4-4 tie in a timed game with Lafayette has been the only non-win during the streak and the Cougars (8-8-1) haven’t lost in 10 days.
Senior Allie Just pitched a complete-game two-hitter while striking out three and walking none for Holy Cross.
“I was hitting my spots really and working the outside,” Just said. “My curveball was really good and my change-up was really affective.”
Just’s defense backed her up by committing only two errors, something that has been an issue for the Cougars this season.
“She’s not an overpowering pitcher, she’s a very experienced pitcher,” Young said. “She keeps her location, she changes speed. She throws the ball in, she throws the ball out, up and down. She does a good job of hitting her spots.”
The Crimsons (13-4) had only four baserunners the entire game.
“Coach calls me a contact pitcher, which means I don’t strike a lot of hitters out,” Just said. “But I make the hitters hit the ball where I want them to. They do put the ball in play a lot and whenever they start hitting the ball a lot, Coach usually comes and talks to me about it. But we usually work around it pretty well.”
Jackson State signee Madison Williams went the distance for Manual and allowed six hits while striking out two.
Hannah Burkhardt, Ally Klein, Shelby Atzinger, Natalie Bodenbender, Jennifer Peffley and Dakota Young had Holy Cross’ hits.
“I think we’re doing pretty well,” Peffley said. “At the beginning of the season we struggled a bit with communicating on a lot of different things. But as the season wears on, we’re growing as a team and it’s showing on the field.”
The Cougars jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Burkhardt led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Klein’s double.
“I knew that she was going to throw a lot of outside pitches because that was what Coach Young told us before the game,” Klein said. “I was just looking for the outside pitch and I knew that if I did that I would help my team.”
Klein then scored on Atzinger’s single.
“In the first inning we had some timely hitting,” Young said. “Ally Klein had a nice double that drove in a run. Shelby had a nice single that drove a run in. That was big. We manufactured the baserunners on the third run on no hits. We did a lot better job with hitting tonight. I can only think of one inning where we left a runner in scoring position that we didn’t get anything out of.”
Holy Cross made it 3-0 in the fourth when Just was hit by a pitch and courtesy runner Amber Kaufman took second on a grounder, then scored on Peffley’s single.
“It was an outside pitch and that’s what I was looking for,” Peffley said. “I was just looking for a base hit to move the runner. My job was to get on base because there were two outs.”