A two-run homer in the bottom of the third inning from Lowell High School freshman Samantha Yee not only pushed her team’s lead to five runs, but marked the beginning of an impressive performance by one of the Academic Athletic Association offensive powerhouses.
The Cardinals continued to pour on the runs as they rolled past Lincoln High School 16-2 in four innings in the AAA softball semifinals on Thursday at Parkside.
“We knew we had quite a mountain to climb,” Lincoln coach Kevin Grayson said. “But given the circumstances, missing three starters and putting a freshman pitcher out there, I’m glad we showed up and didn’t back down in the beginning stages of the game.”
While the Mustangs (10-10) succeeded in creating early opportunities, they failed to capitalize on them.
One such occurrence was when Lincoln third baseman Michelle Lee began the game by knocking a triple to right-center field, yet forgot to touch first base and was called out.
Then, an error with one out and nobody on led to an early score by the Cardinals (14-1), giving them a one-run lead after the first frame.
The third inning proved to be the turning point, when, after entering the bottom of the inning with the score standing at 3-1, Lowell stopped its reliance on its opponent’s mistakes and seized control.
The Cardinals’ offense got to work, scoring eight runs on six hits and pushing the lead to 11-1 to enter the fourth inning.
“We don’t have a top or bottom to this lineup,” Cardinals coach Sascha Ray said. “We have standout hitters in every slot, and for us it was just a matter of loosening up after a tight couple of innings.”
Lincoln would push across just one more run, in the top of the fourth inning, as the Cardinals’ push in the bottom of the frame brought the score to 16-2 and resulted in the game being called due to the 10-run mercy rule.
While Thursday’s results were unfavorable for the Mustangs, they have a lot to look forward to next season as they return eight starters from a team that went 10-6 during the league season.
The Cardinals’ dominant performance does little to discourage them as they head into the AAA championship game next week.
“We feed off of each other’s enthusiasm,” Lowell junior pitcher Michelle Willis said.