While Woodward-Granger hosted a double bill with Earlham in Granger, the softball team played host in the other half of the school’s namesake to the opposite effect. It was all about Earlham (2-0) as the Cardinals sprinted to a 10-0 win in six innings to open the night, followed by a less significant 7-0 win by comparison.
“Credit to them,” W-G head coach Owen Hunter said after the first game. “When you make mistakes with a good team like that, they’re going to make you pay for it.”
Though the final score is less than flattering, beyond the box score details tell a slightly different story.
In both games, W-G held its opponent to two runs in the first four innings, allowing time for the offense to catch up. But without capitalizing on the opportunity, Earlham could run away to even greater effect.
Over the two games, W-G pitched shutouts in seven innings — including a number of three-up-three-down innings from senior pitcher Marah Benbow — showing a capability to blank an opponent. Now it’s a matter of stringing them together at once.
That will have to come off a more refined fielding as a number of errors led to the Cardinals lighting up the scoreboard. With one error came another, what Hunter called a “snowball” effect, including a series that led to the unceremonious ending to Game One.
“It’s contagious just like hitting is,” Hunte said. “Same with the errors. We make a poor throw to begin with and it starts to snowball and we start getting rushed and we don’t know where to go.”
The ending to the first half of the evening was evidence of that negative effect. In a blink of an eye, the game was over once Earlham turned one run into three. One error turned into three as the Hawks tried to get each of the runners out, only to help each advance multiple bases.
In spite of the rough start to the night, Hunter said he was pleased to see his group put in work with batting practice in its downtime between games.
“There’s a group of girls here that have a pretty good work ethic,” Hunter said pointing at a group led by junior Katelyn Bandstra. “They’re always trying to get better. In between games you’ll see them up there doing extra work.”
Upperclassmen like Bandstra have become even more important this season as the team is largely comprised of underclassmen. In total there are five eighth-graders and eight freshmen that comprise most of the team. Games like the two from Thursday night provide a good learning experience to grease the wheels moving forward.
That chance to advance comes just one day later Friday, May 23 with a trip to Southeast Warren (2-1) on the docket.