Lincolnview’s Devann Springer (4) celebrates with her team after hitting a grand slam in a game against Van Wert at Lancers Field Wednesday. The Lady Lancer downed Van Wert 11-1. (Times Bulletin/Brian Bassett)
BY BRIAN BASSETT
Times Bulletin Sports Editor
MIDDLE POINT - The Van Wert Lady Cougar softball team struck first, then never again, and Lincolnview got a grand slam from Devann Springer, as the Lady Lancers won the battle of cross-county rivals 11-1 at Lancer Field Wednesday evening.
"Van Wert can hit the ball, and (Jessica Klausing) is a nice pitcher. I don't take Van Wert for granted. We just got them on a down night, and we had a really good night," Lincolnview coach Kent McClure said of his team's five-inning win.
The Lady Cougars only managed five hits on the night and committed three errors, which led to five unearned runs for the Lady Lancers.
"This is our first time outside, we haven't even practiced outside, so it was about the fourth inning before we started breathing. We settled down and we had a 2-0 ball game after the fourth," said Van Wert coach Mike McClure.
The Cougars (0-1) actually struck first in the top of the first. Senior center fielder Maggie Allmandinger led the game off with a single and scored on an RBI double off the bat of senior first baseman Brittany Bigham to take a 1-0 lead.
The Lady Lancers (2-0) answered in a big way in the following frame. Senior center fielder Jodie Doner led off with an infield hit and later scored on a safety-squeeze bunt by Springer to tie the game at one.
Sophomore shortstop Bailey Neate then picked up a two-out single before junior third baseman Kelsey Mohr reached on Van Wert's first error after striking out. Senior catcher Lauren Calvert then brought Neate home with an RBI single, and junior first baseman Macey Ashbaugh plated Mohr and Clavert with an RBI double.
After the dust settled, the Lady Lancers held a 4-1 lead after an inning of play.
Junior pitcher Ashley McClure struck out the Van Wert side in the top of the second, and Lincolnview added to its lead in the bottom of the frame.
Sophomore right fielder Julia Thatcher doubled to open the inning, and Doner and senior second baseman Kaitlyn Brant singled to load the bases for the Lady Lancers. Springer then launched a monster grand slam over the left-field fence to give Lincolnview an 8-1 lead.
"Devann is picking right up from last year," said Kent McClure, of Springer who earned all-conference honors in 2012.
Ashbaugh later plated Springer with an RBI single to make the score 9-1 after two full innings.
Van Wert's final threat came in the third when the Lady Cougars loaded the bases, but all three runners were stranded when McClure induced a flyout to end the inning.
Lincolnview's final blow came in the home half of the fourth. Neate singled and Mohr reached on a fielding error before Ashbaugh struck again, this time with a two RBI single to make the score 11-0.
Ashbaugh ended up 3-for-3 at the plate with a double and five RBIs.
"Macey struggled last night. She was in the two spot last night and didn't hit the ball hard. We moved her down to see some better pitches. I know she can hit, and you saw what happened tonight," the Lincolnview coach added.
McClure shut to door on the Van Wert hitters in the visitor fifth to end the game.
"Congratulations to Lincolnview, they played a good ball game. We need to get better," said Mike McClure.
Along with Ashbaugh, Springer went 1-for-2 from the plate with a home run and five RBIs
Kent McClure explained that the team is happy to start the season strong. "Especially the way we're hitting the ball. Last night (at Marion Local) we actually hit three balls that, if the wind wasn't blowing in, (might have gone out)."
McClure picked up the win on the mound. She went five innings, allowing one earned run while striking out seven and walking one.
Allmandinger led the Lady Cougar attack at the plate. She went 2-for-3 with a run scored. Bigham was 1-for-3 with the lone RBI and extra-base hit.
Klausing took the loss. She went four innings, allowing 11 runs, six earned, while walking none and striking out three.
"We've just got to let it go. We've got to get past it. Like I was just telling the girls, we beat Crestview last year and they went on to win the state tournament," concluded Mike McClure.
Van Wert will face off with those Crestview Lady Knights in Convoy Thursday evening. The Lady Lancers return to action Saturday when they host Pandora-Gilboa.
Van Wert 100 00x x - 1 5 3
Lincolnview 450 2xx x - 11 11 1
WP - McClure (2-0)
LP - Klausing (0-1)
2B - Ashbaugh (LV), Thatcher (LV), Bigham (VW).
HR - Springer (LV).