Any concerns of an emotional let down after their 13 inning win over Clifton on Tuesday, the Italy Lady Gladiators quickly put fans at ease after senior pitcher, Megan Richards, records three strikeouts in the top of the first-inning against the Rio Vista Lady Eagles on Friday.
Richards then grabs a bat and hits a lead-off single to start the bottom half of the inning. Freshman speedster, Tara Wallis, subs in for Richards and quickly steals second base. Freshman, Jaclynn Lewis, battles and gets walked to put two Italy runners on base. Junior, Alyssa Richards, pops a sacrifice fly to right field to score Wallis, 1-0 Italy.
Katie Byers, draws a walk, as well, followed by, Paige Wesbrook, to load the bases. Lewis eventually scores from third as does Westbrook to make the score 3-0 before Rio Vista collects three outs.
In the top of the second, Megan Richards, delivers her fourth strikeout. A grounder to short is fielded by Bailey Bumpus who fires to Lewis, who is covering first for the second out. A shoulder high screamer hit by a Lady Eagle down the first base line is plucked out of the air by Lewis for out number three.
In the bottom of the second, Bailey Eubank slap hits to shortstop and the freshman beats the throw to first base. Eubank takes off and slides under the tag to steal second base. Now back to the top of Italy’s lineup, Megan Richards, hits a pop-up over the Lady Eagle infielders that drops in for a single. Wallis pinch runs for Megan Richards. Bumpus flies out to first base for the first out. A high fly ball, hit by Lewis to left field, scores Eubank. Italy leads 4-0.
With, Wallis, on third base, Alyssa Richards, knocks a fly ball to left field to score Wallis from third. Italy threatens to pull away from Rio Vista with a 5-0 advantage. Madison Washington turns a blooper to shallow right field into a double, just beating the tag at second base. Alyssa Richards slides home to make the score 6-0, in favor of the Lady Gladiators.
Westbrook, hits a grounder to third base scoring Washington from third. Italy leads 7-0. A strikeout for the third out saves Rio Vista from further damage and the game shifts to the top of the third.
Megan Richards strikes out the first Rio Vista batter. A grounder fielded by Westbrook, at second base, results in out number two after Westbrook tosses to Lewis covering first. Megan Richards records her fifth strikeout for out number three. The game moves to the bottom of the third.
With one out, Kelsey Nelson, hits a solid liner to short but the freshman is unable to reach the first base bag before the ball for Italy’s second out. Megan Richards, lofts a high fly ball into the right field gap that deflects off the tip of a Lady Eagle’s mitt for a double. Bumpus, hits a double into right field to score Megan Richards and make the score 8-0, as Italy pulls away the flock. Italy’s next batter grounds out to end the third.
Megan Richards remains on the mound and starts the top of the fourth with a strikeout for Italy. Nelson hustles under a fly ball to left field and makes the catch for out number two. Bumpus charges a ground ball hit to short and fires to Lewis on first for out number three as Rio Vista continues their offensive woes.
Wallis gets walked to begin action in the bottom of the fourth-inning. Westbrook grounds out to short but Wallis advances to second base. Byers singles to score Wallis to give Italy a 9-0 lead. Byers steals second base while Bailey DeBorde battles at the plate. Also a freshman, DeBorde belts a high flyer to centerfield but the Lady Eagles snag it for out number two. Byers holds at second. Nelson jumps on the next Lady Eagle pitch and lands a high fly ball into centerfield for a single. Byers scurries home to make the score 10-0.
Richards returns to the batter’s box and mimics her previous at bat by sending a fly ball into the right field gap that, again, deflects off the mitt of a Lady Eagle outfielder for a double. Nelson reaches third base. Bumpus doubles to score Nelson and Megan Richards. Italy leads 12-0. Italy grounds out for the third out.
Now in the top of the fifth-inning, Rio Vista has a hill to climb to extend the game. However, the Lady Eagles single to centerfield during their first at bat. Washington passes to Wallis at the cutoff, who quickly throws to Bumpus covering second to hold the runner at first. Byers fields a ground ball and shoots it over to Bumpus for a force out at second. One out. Rio Vista’s next batter walks to first base putting two runners at first and second for the Lady Eagles. Any hope off a comeback was swiftly erased after Byers fielded another grounder and then won the foot race to third for Italy’s second force out of the inning.
With runners at first and second base for Rio Vista, Lewis fields a grounder hit to first base and then steps on the bag for the third and final out of Italy’s 12-0 shutout win over the Lady Eagles. Megan Richards recorded 7 strikeouts in 5 innings for the Lady Gladiators who improve to 6-1 in district play.
The Lady Gladiators will play an away game against the Itasca Lady Wampus Cats on Thursday, April 5, starting at 5:30 p.m.
The Italy Gladiators:
Caden Jacinto, a junior at Italy High School, starts on the mound against Rio Vista for Gladiator head coach, Josh Ward. The Eagles score first but the game is all tied at 2-2, in the bottom of the second when, sophomore, Justin Wood socks a 2RBI double giving Italy a 4-2 advantage. A leaping grab by Rio Vista’s shortstop ends the inning.
With one out in the top of the third, Italy’s shortstop, Justin Buchanan, a Gladiator senior, matches Rio Vista’s heroics and leaps high into the air to snag the second out. Second baseman Reid Jacinto, a Gladiator junior, displays his vertical leap to capture the third out in the tip of his glove.
In the bottom of the third and facing one out, John Byers, a freshman DH for Italy, singles to centerfield. Caden Jacinto flies out to second base for out number two. Senior, Jase Holden connects for a double but Byers decides to hold at third. Wood, unwavering with two out lights glowing on the scoreboard, singles to score both Byers and Holden. Wood’s hot bat gives Italy a 6-2 edge.
With the score 7-2, Reid Jacinto records a triple to score three runs. Italy leads 10-2 before a strikeout rescues Rio Vista in the third.
The Eagles spend the next few innings trying to peck away at Italy’s lead as Caden Jacinto continues to carry the load on the mound for Italy. Rio Vista scores 1 run in the fourth-inning and then two more in the top of the seventh. Coach Ward steps out of the dugout and briefly talks with his pitcher. With the score 10-5, Italy’s head coach opts to stick with the confident hurler.
The decision pans out when, with two outs, Rio Vista flicks a fly ball foul down the right field fence line. Holden, races over from his right field position and slides face-first thru the grass toward the fence and under the ball for the final out of the game. Holden’s gutsy effort preserves the 10-5 win for Italy and gets the club to .500 with a 3-3 district record.
The Gladiators will play Axtell tonight in Italy starting at 6:00 p.m. to make up for yesterday’s rainout game that was originally scheduled to played on the Longhorn fields.