ROCK - In the second game of a doubleheader between Van Junior-Senior (7-7) and Montcalm (4-6) on March 30, the Lady Dogs were already feeling good. A 10-0 shutout in the first game upped the momentum for the visiting team, sending them into another game against a team already frustrated that evening.
Senior Monica Bias pitched for Van, while Jaden Hatfield pitched for the Lady Generals.
Junior center fielder Kensley White singled to begin the game. She was followed by senior catcher Casey Belcher, who kept a good eye out to work the count to full before walking and being pinched for freshman Autumn Estep. Junior shortstop Karlie LaFauci singled to keep things moving, and was pinched for sophomore Emma Vickers.
Senior right fielder Haleigh Brown went up next, recording another hit for Van and being pinched for senior Sydney Bourne. The team kept their running aggressive and Montcalm's defense nervous, and though the next three batters all sat, the four baserunners all reached home to give Van an early, commanding 4-0 lead. Monica Bias worked the strike zone well, striking out Hatfield and letting Van's defense do its work to get left fielder Taylor Dunford and Destiny Ball out as well.
Bias opened the second inning with a double, making her effort both offensively and defensively a worthwhile one. Junior Gabby Gregger walked to get two runners on base. White hit a flyout to third, but was followed by a single from Belcher and LaFauci's second home run of the season to make the score 8-0 before the second and third outs. In the bottom of the inning, center fielder Savanna Bailey recorded reached on an error, but was quickly stranded by another solid inning on the mound by Bias. First baseman Katlyn Williams and third baseman Brittany Vendrial flew out, and right fielder Jaylen Lambert was struck out looking to end the inning.
At the top of the third, junior second baseman Delaney Maynor singled to start things up. Senior first baseman Hannah Brown swung for the first out. Bias singled to advance Maynor, and was followed onto the field by Gregger. Kensley White doubled for another hit and more runs, and Belcher walked for yet another base hit. All five girls scored runs, and two more singles from Brown and freshman third baseman Jazmyn Gibson added to Van's hits. Unfortunately for them, the third out was recorded and the side retired. Bias closed out the game by striking out Montcalm's next two hitters and forcing a fly ball that she caught herself to end the game 13-0.
In the three innings played, Bias pitched for only one hit and four strikeouts. Casey Belcher went 3-for-3 to lead the Lady Bulldogs.
Coach Mike LaFauci praised the effort by the entire team in the doubleheader, particularly in the second game.
"Offense was able to get rolling and allowed us to get some of our role players more game action," LaFauci said. "We were aggressive on the base paths, which allowed us to keep Montcalm off balance defensively."
He additionally lauded Bias's command over the strike zone, as well as Jazmyn Gibson's continued growth as a third baseman, saying the freshman is making the position her own.
Van (8-7) plays Tug Valley (11-5) away on April 11 at 6 p.m. Montcalm (8-8) takes on Twin Valley (0-3) and Narrows (3-5) at home on April 10, beginning at 4:30 p.m.