ELIDA — Van Wert’s softball team saw this coming even if almost no one else did. Well, at least they had hope it could happen.
The Cougars delivered a big surprise in their Division II sectional opener when they run-ruled Elida 20-0 at Dorothy Edward Field on Tuesday.
Van Wert went into the game with a 2-14 record and had only one win in the Western Buckeye League. Elida had 10 wins and one of those was a 7-3 decision over the Cougars last week in a WBL match-up.
But Van Wert scored eight runs in the top of the first inning, added another run in the second inning, then sent eight more runners across the plate in the third inning to take total control of Tuesday’s game.
“In practice we always hit this good but we never take it to games and we finally did,” said center fielder Adrianna Grothause, who reached base all five times she batted, drove in three runs and scored three times.
“If we were doing this all season, we’d be really good. Our record would be a lot better. This just shows Van Wert can do what the other teams have been doing,” she said.
Olivia Kline, Lauren Moore and Grace Spoor also drove in three runs each for the Cougars, who had 10 hits and took advantage of 16 walks by Elida’s pitchers. Twelve of those walks came in the first three innings.
Spoor said, “We just haven’t stepped up to our potential in games. I feel like today we really reached our expectations.”
Looking at the turnaround from last week’s game against Elida, Moore said, “Last week we didn’t really hit as well as we did this week. Our energy was way better today than it was last week.”
Moore pitched a five-inning shutout. She struck out four, walked four and allowed eight hits. Elida loaded the bases in the first inning with two out and did it again in the final inning, but the Cougars got the third out on ground out and a pop-up.
“Lauren did a great job and we did a great job defensively behind her to help her throw that shutout. She hit her spots tonight and mixed up the pitches well,” Van Wert coach Greg Steinecker said.
“We came focused to play today. Their pitcher struggled early. We were very disciplined at the plate to not swing at bad pitches. We able to get out front early with a good lead and just built off that and kept going forward,” he said.
Van Wert plays at No. 1-seeded Napoleon at 5 p.m. Friday in its next tournament game.
Just before Van Wert’s postgame huddle in the outfield broke up, more than one player said, “We’re not done.”
So, do the Cougars have another surprise in them? They have hope and they have confidence after Tuesday’s win.
“We’re not done yet,” Spoor said.