Explosive Offense Makes Up for Defensive Lapses in Wildcat Victory

If we learned anything from Rye Country Day’s season-opener at home March 31, it’s that this softball team can rake with the best of them.

The Wildcats erased an early 8-2 deficit against Hamden Hall and prevailed 19-14 in a four-and-a-half inning game that took two hours to complete. Errors, wild pitches and passed balls abounded on both sides – typical of the first local game of the spring – but the RCDS offense showed no signs of winter rust. The team recorded more hits (14) than outs (12), with 10 coming from the bats of junior Christine Cunningham and seniors Kim McKoy and Elexa Antweil.

Kim McKoy

“This is promising,” said head coach Wendy Haft of the hitting capabilities her squad displayed. “Even with our best teams over the past few years there hasn’t been as much promise. The small-ball offensive game and base running will be a focus for us.”

Cunningham, the shortstop, finished the game 4 for 4 with two doubles and two RBIs. Co-captain Antweil, who plays second base, went 3 for 3 including a triple, and knocked in a run. McKoy drove home the Wildcats’ first run of the season in the bottom of the first when she roped a triple deep over the head of the Hamden Hall right fielder. The catcher ended up 3for 4 from the plate and led with three RBIs.

Nineteen of the game’s 33 total runs were scored in the second inning. Rye Country Day’s prospects appeared grim after giving up eight runs in the disastrous top of the inning. Beginning with an Antweil hit up the middle, however, the team’s fortunes turned in the bottom of the frame. The Wildcats batted around as co-captain Alexandra Sabatini, Cunningham, McKoy, Lindsay Haut, Antweil, Cody Nilsen and Jennifer Williamson all stroked hits. When the smoke cleared RCDS had rallied for 11 runs and entered the third up 13-8.

“Our team never gives up and always has a positive attitude,” said McKoy. “Although the other team was scoring a lot runs, it was because of our own errors. We realized that and used it as fuel to take out there in our at-bats.”

In a game where the Wildcats committed eight errors, it was a standout defensive play that guaranteed their upward trajectory. Hamden Hall was poised to continue the back-and-forth affair in the top of the third with one out and runners on second and third. Haut short-circuited the effort with a tremendous play at third, though, catching a laser of a liner for one out and tagging the runner coming back to the base for the inning-ending double play.

Lindsay Haut

“Lindsay’s reaction was great and it gave our team an extra boost,” said McKoy.

Forming the battery with McKoy was senior Kristi Licare, who made her varsity pitching debut. Licare struck out six and, aside from a perilous second where she walked the first four batters and allowed eight runs, pitched effectively.

“This was her first varsity game on the mound and she didn’t quit or get down on herself,” said Haft. “She showed tremendous character and will get stronger with every game. She does a great job of keeping the batters guessing.”

McKoy agreed with her coach’s assessment of her pitcher and noted that, even when she was in trouble, Licare remained calm and collected.

Kristi Licare

But as great as it feels to be 1-0, the Wildcats say they have work to do.

“We’re very grateful for the win,” said Haft. “Even though we swung the bat well, we struggled defensively and allowed batters to get on and move around the bases. They all need repetition so that every play is routine. They’ll get stronger, physically and especially mentally.”


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