By Brady Extin | The Times-Post
CHARLOTTESVILLE — A rough patch in the Lapel schedule — in which it played two Class 4A opponents, and two Top 10-ranked teams in Class 2A over a stretch of five games — came to a close on Friday at Eastern Hancock.
The Bulldogs dropped four of five over the stretch, losing 7-3 to Class 4A Mt. Vernon, 7-4 to Class 4A New Castle, 7-3 to Class 2A No. 10 Madison-Grant and on Friday, 12-2 to Class 2A No. 6 Eastern Hancock. Lapel’s lone win during the stretch came against Bishop Chatard, 7-3.
“We’re definitely playing some good teams lately,” Lapel head coach Ellie Balbach said. “I think it depends on what game you look at, though, because some of the games we aren’t playing terrible, we just aren’t doing more than our opponent. But you don’t win a lot of games playing that way.”
In the first, a Krystin Davis walk and Ava Everman single got two runners on for the Bulldogs, but three strikeouts by Eastern Hancock starting pitcher Madison Stephens left them stranded.
A Laylah Gore single and walk were the only other Lapel base runners until they tagged Stephens for two fifth-inning runs with the game already out of reach.
A six-run second inning in which the Royals sent 10 batters to the plate was enough to keep the Bulldogs at bay.
A Grace Stapleton double brought in the first run of the inning, and made things 2-0, and one batter later she was singled in by Addisyn Trackwell.
Alina Alford added a pinch-hit three-run home run, and Lilli Ringer knocked in the final run of the inning on a sacrifice fly.
“[Friday] I think the mental side of the game killed us,” Balbach said. “We weren’t always in it, and once Eastern jumped on us early we kind of gave up, and then when we started to come back in the fifth and sixth innings it was too late. You can’t win games playing like that.”
A Trackwell double in the third kickstarted a three-run inning, and the Royals added two in the sixth for the walk-off victory.
Trackwell’s fourth hit of the night, an RBI single to right field, brought in Stapleton for the game-ending run.
The Bulldogs extended the game into the sixth inning with RBI singles from Everman and Hannah Laughlin in the top of the fifth. Jordan Tracy started the inning with a leadoff walk and later scored the Bulldogs’ first run. Davis scored the other Lapel run after reaching base on a single of her own.
“We’ve had that issue all season. A lot of our losses, if you look at our schedule, we come back too late in the game,” Balbach said. “That tells us that we’re starting too late, and so we’ve been trying to fix that overall. We need to start early and stay up, but it just didn’t go our way this time.”
Gore led the Bulldogs, reaching base in all three of her at-bats.
Trackwell’s four hits led the Royals, along with Alford’s three RBI.
In the circle, Davis got the start and was credited with seven of the runs. Karlie Jannings came in relief in the middle of the second inning and went the remainder of the game.
She allowed five runs — three earned — on seven hits, and struck out three.
“Karlie was pretty solid. Eastern is a great hitting team, and I think she held her own,” Balbach said. “I think she hit her spots for the most part, trusted her defense and did well.”
On Monday, the Bulldogs broke out of the slump with the help of a big inning of their own.
Down 6-0 in the third, Lapel put up nine third-inning runs en route to a 16-6 win against Wapahani.
Ava Everman was 4-for-5 with a home run and a team-leading three RBI. Taylor Mroz added a home run and two RBI, and Jannings and Paige Stires knocked in two runs as well. As a team, the Bulldogs notched 15 hits.
Jannings picked up the win, throwing three perfect innings and striking out five.
Lapel was scheduled to play Anderson on Wednesday (after press time) and travel to Delta tonight, Thursday, May 11, with the first pitch set for 5:30 p.m.