By Jeremy Balan
The Lowell High School softball team is making a habit of ending games early.
The Cardinals scored 12 runs in the first inning of a 18-0 three-inning blowout win over University in non-league play at Lang Field on Friday, to claim their fourth-consecutive victory by mercy rule.
The defending Academic Athletic Association champions had their first seven batters reach base and score, and batted around twice in the first inning against the defending Bay Counties League West champs.
Lowell (5-0) worked eight walks, but did most of its damage with 10 hits, including home runs by sophomore shortstop Samantha Yee and freshman right fielder Samantha Fong. Yee also hit two home runs against Balboa on Thursday.
“I told them that it was going to be a good game and I don’t think they like when I say that, because they want to be better than the other team,” said Lowell head coach Sascha Ray. “It’s contagious. Once one hits, they all start and it just opens up.”
Yee was one of three Lowell players to score three runs, along with pitcher Michelle Willis, who also kept the Red Devils (2-3) scoreless and hitless through the three innings.
The senior only threw 31 pitches to collect the win, struck out three University batters and allowed just two baserunners, one on an error in the second inning and another on an ensuing fielder’s choice.
Willis, who is not an overpowering power-thrower, consistently hit the outside edges of the plate and mowed down the entirely right-handed University lineup with a deadly-accurate curveball.
“Last year and even the year before, she was just a right-up-the-middle pitcher, so she’s been really working on her drop and her curve,” Ray said.
The Red Devils, who came into the matchup on a two-game winning streak, couldn’t hold down the Lowell offense, but also extended innings with key defensive mistakes, including three errors in the first inning.
“I think we just had an off day,” said University head coach Jessica Skylar. “There were a couple of big errors, we just weren’t on our game and we couldn’t quite recover. It was not a good day, but we’ll keep going.”
Up next for Lowell is a rematch of last season’s AAA championship game against Washington on Tuesday. The teams have met in the last three championship games and the matchup has become one of the most heated rivalries in the City.
“Those games are really intense and I’m exhausted after them,” Ray said. “Washington always brings their ‘A’ game. We beat them last year and nobody thinks about what happened the year before or the year before that. They’re going to be coming after us strong, and we need to be calm and ready”
L – Michelle Willis singles, Yun Li scores
L – Madison Donahue-Wolfe singles, Samantha Yee and Willis score
L – Gretel Gunther singles, Donahue-Wolfe scores on an error
L – Samantha Fong walks, Gretel Gunter scores
L – Li singles, Majenta Strongheart scores
L – Yee singles, Vanessa Lee scores
L – Donahue-Wolfe reaches on an error, Li scores
L – Gunther doubles, Yee and Willis score
L – Strongheart singles, Donahue-Wolfe and Gunther score
L – Fong reaches on an error, Strongheart scores
L – Yee homers, Yee scores
L – Donahue-Wolfe triples, Willis scores
L – Gunther sacrifice fly, Donahue-Wolfe scores
L – Fong homers, Lee and Fong score