By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
MAYS LANDING — With Ryan Staiger having to use a spot starter inside the circle against Cape May Tech on Tuesday afternoon, the ACIT coach was hoping his offense could come through to take some of the pressure off senior Elisabeth Davis, who normally is the starting shortstop but was filling in for the injured Mary Jane Calascione.
The RedHawks’ offense came through in a big way, putting up six runs in the bottom of the second as ACIT cruised to a 10-1 win over the Hawks to improve to 5-9. Gianna Palermo and Jaiana Gautier led the way, each going 3-for-4 with three runs batted in, while Davis held her own inside the circle, scattering six hits while striking out two and walking just one batter.
“Usually, I try to give (Calascione) a day off when I can, and she’s been hurt. Liz did a great job. No matter where we put her — shortstop, pitcher, catcher — she does a great job, and she does it with a smile,” Staiger said. “Gianna Palermo did a great job as well, making solid contact. She’s one of our seniors, a great kid, always ready to play. She’s really a hard worker.”
“Everyone was hitting the ball and doing really well,” said Davis, who picked up not only her second win of the season as a pitcher, but also her 99th career hit on a bunt single leading off the bottom of the fourth inning. “I feel like when we work together and have our heads in the game, we do really well. When we act as a family, that’s when we play our best.”
Cape May Tech pitcher Amy Poserina got through the first inning with relative ease before the RedHawks exploded for six runs in the bottom of the second. Lauren DePlato followed up Jordyn Harris’ infield single with an RBI single of her own, driving in Harris, who stole second on the previous pitch. DePlato came around to score on a wild pitch to make it 2-0 before Palermo roped a two-run double to left. The Hawks had a chance to get out of the inning without further damage, but two more runs came around to score on an infield error with two outs.
The Hawks got a run back in the top of the third when Taylor Patterson scored on a groundout by Lorin Perednas, but that’s all Davis allowed.
“That made the game a little easier for us. We haven’t had too many innings like that this year, but it definitely makes life a little easier when that happens,” Staiger said of the six-run outburst in the second.
“It makes it easier on me out there,” Davis added. “When everybody is hitting well on offense and also playing well on defense, that helps. I just kind of wing it out there and try to get the ball over the plate.”
The RedHawks tacked on a couple more runs in the fourth on a pair of fielder’s choice grounders, then pushed the lead to 10-1 with two more runs in the fifth, one on an RBI double down the left-field line by Ivone Gautier and another on a groundout by Anna Mercurio.
“This was a nice win,” Palermo said. “It really showed how we can come together as a team. This was the first time I’ve been batting since I got injured recently, so it was nice to be back.”
Staiger said a beefed up schedule has meant more losses than normal for the RedHawks, but he’s hoping the competition will pay dividends down the road for a team with just three seniors.
“Playing against teams like EHT, Vineland and Millville twice every year — I made the schedule the hardest it has probably ever been this year to get us ready for those kinds of teams. Our record doesn’t really indicate what kind of team we’ve been,” he said. “This game (against Cape May Tech) would have been a lot closer in previous years, but I feel like our tougher schedule gets our girls ready to play.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @GDsullysays
By DAVE O’SULLIVAN