Green Hope illuminated its softball lights early as ominous dark clouds hovered over the field on what had been a rare sunny afternoon in a spring sports season marred by winter weather.
But the only rain that developed was a downpour of Fuquay-Varinia hits and base runners as the Bengals defeated Green Hope 12-4 Tuesday afternoon in a crucial Southwest Wake Athletic Conference game.
“These are usually close games,” said Fuquay sophomore pitcher Cassidy Keith, who benefited from a comfortable lead. “The last time we played them (on April 9) we won only 3-1. But we had some great hitting and great fielding today.”
The Bengals banged out 13 hits and waited on seven walks to score five runs in the third, one in the fourth, five more in the fifth and one in the sixth. All this came after Green Hope had retired Fuquay batters without a hit in the first two innings and took advantage of two unearned runs in the bottom of the second for a 2-0 lead.
With the victory, Fuquay improved to 7-2 in the SWAC and 9-3 overall and assured itself of remaining at least tied for second place with Apex in the loss column. The Bengals were coming off a 7-4 win over Apex to force the tie. Green Hope dropped to 6-4 in the SWAC and 11-4 overall.
“This was a big win for us,” Fuquay coach Deb Clarke said. “I was concerned when we struggled and were trailing 2-0, but then we started to hit.”
The offense came from eight players collecting hits but most notably from the bottom of the order. The Nos. 6, 7, 8 and 9 batters accounted for seven of the hits. Centerfielder Erica Kiessling, the No. 9 hitter, was 3-of-3 with two singles and a double. She scored once and knocked in two runs.
“I’ve been working on my hitting and listening to my coaches,” Kiessling said. “I was hitting well early in the season and then went into a slump. I kept working and I’m finally starting to hit again.”
First baseman Kelsey Ward, the No. 3 batter, only had one hit, but it was a three-run triple to right-center field.
Keith mentioned the hitting and fielding, but she also kept Green Hope’s batters off balance by throwing 51 strikes to only 23 balls in five innings of work. There were some sharply hit balls, but third baseman Logan Bowling made stab after stab for ground-ball outs.
For Green Hope, shortstop Natsumi Koyama had two singles and scored a run.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Green Hope coach Morgan Caddell said. “We’ve got to come back out here and work hard and fix things in certain areas before the next game.”