The Warwick Vets softball team took a step forward with its first victory of the season last Tuesday. The next time they took the field, the Hurricanes didn’t take a full step back, but they got a reminder that there’s very little margin for error in their tough Division I slate, even with the improvements they’ve made.
Facing Chariho on Thursday, the ’Canes battled in the same way that yielded the victory Tuesday but gave up seven unearned runs – most as a result of wind-blown fly balls – and lost 9-6.
“The wind isn’t an excuse,” said Vets head coach Paul Kennedy. “We were right with them. We’re playing better than last year, but we made too many mistakes and they took advantage of them. You can’t do that in Division I. Those are plays that you need to make.”
Vets dropped to 1-6 while Chariho improved to 4-3.
The ’Canes looked for a time like they were in line for a second straight victory. After falling behind 1-0, they rallied and took a 4-2 lead into the fourth inning.
It unraveled there.
The Chargers scored six runs with two outs, and they stung because of what had come before. Chariho had a runner on first with one out when Vets couldn’t corral a fly ball to left field that got caught in the gusty winds. Vets pitcher Kayla Morin came back to get the next out, which would have ended the inning had the fly ball been caught. Instead, the Chargers were still alive.
And unfortunately for the ’Canes, they were hitting.
No. 9 hitter Jess Rego smacked a single to center field, scoring two and touching off a string of six consecutive hits. When the dust settled, the Chargers had turned the 4-2 deficit into an 8-4 lead. Jess Ryan also knocked in two runs in the surge.
“You preach that if you give up one or two, you stop it and you don’t let it become three, four,” Kennedy said. “But it’s demoralizing. Credit to them. They kept getting hits after the errors. They made it hurt. That’s what good teams do. We’ve got to learn to buckle down in those situations. I don’t care if you’ve given up five, don’t let it be six.”
Vets got back within striking distance thanks to a two-run single by Emily Walason in the bottom of the fourth. But Chariho reliever India O’Neil – who came on in the fourth – settled in from there and kept the ’Canes off the board. She worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth and stranded runners on second and third in the seventh, after the Chargers had added another unearned run in the top half.
Vets stranded 12 runners total.
“That was the story of the game,” Kennedy said. “In addition to the fielding, we did not get the big hit. Last inning, we left runners on second and third. When you strand runners and you don’t play defense, that’s not a good formula.”
Of the 12 outs O’Neil recorded, seven came via strikeout.
“She had more get-up than the other one, and I think that’s the strategy behind it,” Kennedy said. “Come in with the first pitcher, bring the fire-baller in and kind of mess up the timing. She throws hard and we were behind on her a lot.”
Meg Rousseau had three hits to lead the chargers. Ryan and Rego had two hits and two RBI apiece.
Vets was led by Morin, Arietta Chevian and Liz Iadevaia, who had two hits apiece. Walason and Naomi Franzen had two RBI while Kayla Bourbon had one.
“We stayed with them,” Kennedy said. “We’ll keep working on the defense. I’ll hit 500 balls a practice. If we get a little bit better there, I think we’ll be OK.”
The ’Canes scheduled to play Lincoln on Monday, with results unavailable at press time. They will visit Cranston West today at 3:45 p.m.