GENEVA – Geneva scored all the runs it needed to win Monday’s Upstate Eight Conference River Division softball game against Batavia in the first inning.
Under that scenario, third baseman Kirsten Searcy’s three-run home run in the sixth was merely window dressing.
To the Vikings, the hit carried just a bit more oomph, not unlike Searcy’s opposite-field shot that punctuated a 9-4 victory.
“I think the team definitely was more relaxed after that,” Searcy said, “We all knew we had to score more. We all wanted more. So we just tried to swing our best.”
Simply making contact proved a sound strategy for Geneva (8-10, 4-6 UEC River) in the early going, as three of its first four batters reached base via Batavia errors. The Vikings struck for six first-inning runs.
The Bulldogs (2-11, 1-8), who broke their pregame huddle with a chant of “DEFENSE!” recovered to make a handful of solid plays in the field, including third baseman Selena Kweder’s unassisted double play to end the second inning.
Batavia also erased two Vikings in rundowns, using those developments and the pitching of sophomore Alicia Mueller to stay within striking distance. Searcy’s homer turned a 6-3 score into a 9-3 cushion, making players bemoan the first-inning blunders even more.
“I don’t know if we came out relaxed, I just know that we really made some of those physical errors,” Bulldogs coach Lupe Castellanos said. “And then once you make the one, then they’re kind of one after the other, and then it’s hard for us to bounce back a little bit.”
Geneva knows the feeling, counting a handful of multi-error games in its early-season struggles.
Still, the recent return of some regulars – namely senior infielder Kelly Gordon, who had been out with a broken hand she suffered just before tryouts – has the Vikings eyeing a turnaround as the postseason nears.
Confidence should also be helpful in a busy week that features a home-and-home with St. Charles North and a visit to streaking St. Charles East.
“A lot of our girls are getting healthier, so they’re all able to play now,” Searcy said. “So we have our team now, and we’re all just ready to win.”
Other Vikings veterans shined. Senior right fielder Amanda Ebert knocked a two-run single to cap the scoring in the first. In the sixth, she reached on a bunt single three batters ahead of Searcy.
After Batavia had three successive singles against Geneva freshman Emily Plocinski to open its half of the sixth – including Brieann Cruz’s run-scoring hit – junior Haley Orwig recorded the final five outs.
Katie Ryan and Erin Costigan also drove in runs for the Bulldogs, but that wasn’t enough to cancel out Searcy’s third home run of the season.
“That was a big hit for us; it takes the pressure off,” Vikings coach Greg Dierks said. “They got some base runners after that, but with a bigger lead, it certainly makes the pitching and defense better when you’re up by five.”