With a brutal five-game stretch finally in the books, the Warwick Vets softball team traveled to Cranston East for a non-league game on Friday night.
And while it won’t count in the league standings, the Hurricanes got just what they needed out of it.
Vets played its best game of the season and beat the Division II ’Bolts 6-1 for its third victory of the year. With some key games looming for the ’Canes, the win could be a perfect springboard.
“I’m hoping this gets us going,” said Vets head coach Paul Kennedy said. “Not only do we have a couple of winnable games coming up, but we have some games that are really big for us. Barrington, Woonsocket are right with us, and Bay View is a couple of games ahead of us. So we should be able to compete and this is a good way to go into it.”
Since a victory in their non-league season opener, the ’Canes had won only once – a 14-13 league triumph over Mount St. Charles. Over the last two weeks, things felt even more daunting. Vets’ last five opponents own a combined record of 45-13. For a struggling team, it was a tough road.
“Wins have been few and far between for us, so it feels good to get one,” Kennedy said.
Though the game with East wouldn’t help the cause in the standings, Vets viewed it as an important one.
“Last year, this team buried us in a non-league game,” Kennedy said. “They embarrassed us. I did not want that to happen again. We wanted to come out here and show them that we are a little bit better than we were last year, and I think we did.”
East, which is 4-7 in D-II but is expected to contend for a playoff spot, took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Taylor Burns singled, stole second and third and scored on a bunt by Amanda Rosa.
Vets got nothing against East starter Paula Frost over the next two innings but started to turn the tide in the fourth. Liz Iadevaia singled to start the frame and Michelle Spremulli – who was in her first game back after missing a month with injury – cracked a double to right, moving Iadevaia to third. Kelsey Houle brought Iadevaia home with an RBI groundout, tying the game at 1-1.
From there, the ’Canes scored five more runs, but it was their performance in the bottom of the fourth that set the stage. On the heels of the Vets rally, Rosa opened the frame with a single and stole second. Alexa St. Angelo followed with a line drive to center field and she took second on a throw home. Just like that, East had runners on second and third with nobody out.
But the ’Canes escaped.
Pitcher Kayla Bourbon jumped ahead of Carley Rotenberg 1-2 and got her to pop out. Then, she got Alexis McCarten – one of East’s best hitters – to fly out to Naomi Franzen in left field. Finally, with the runners still in scoring position, Bourbon struck out Jaylyn Lomba on three pitches to end the inning.
“Sometimes the turning point is not in the seventh,” Kennedy said. “Second and third, nobody out in the fourth. We went out there and talked about what we wanted to do. We did some things well and that was real nice to see.”
It was all ’Canes after that. Base hits by Sabrina Cain, Iadevaia and Arietta Chevian – plus an East error – plated three runs in the fifth. Cain, Gabby Korlacki and Chelsea Reid singled with one out in the sixth and Emily Walason brought a run home with a groundout. In the seventh, Vets tacked on one more thanks to two errors and a double by Chevian.
While the ’Canes got some help from East’s miscues, they also took advantage – and forced some mistakes – by consistently putting the ball in play. They struck out only twice and finished with 10 hits.
“I’m very happy with the way we played,” Kennedy said. “It was good to see some contributions from different parts of the lineup. We did some things well tonight.”
The ’Canes also played well in the field, something that’s been a challenge all year. Their only error was a bad throw to first on a dropped third strike.
The strong defense helped Vets hold off East over the final three innings. With runners on first and second in the fifth, Bourbon pounced on a bunt and threw to first for the final out. Cain caught Lomba stealing in the sixth, and Vets had no trouble making the plays in a one-two-three seventh.
“Kayla pitched a really nice game and when we meet in our circle, I’ll tell them, ‘That’s what happens when you play defense,’” Kennedy said. “We didn’t give them too many extra outs, and we can do that even against the really good teams. If we don’t give teams extra outs, we can stay with them.”
Bourbon scattered seven hits and struck out three. On the offensive side, Iadevaia led the charge with three hits, a run scored and an RBI. Chevian and Cain had two hits each, while Reid, Spremulli and Korlacki had one each.
The ’Canes were set to return to action Monday against 2-10 Barrington. Results were unavailable at press time.
“This was a nice stepping stone to Barrington,” Kennedy said. “It’s a winnable game. We’ll take the positive from this – we just played a very good game and we’ll see if we can come out firing.”
Vets will host Toll Gate on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.