STRATFORD LAUNCHES CYPRESS COUNTERINVASION
Spartans Roll Over Cy-Creek 13-2
Fueled by a toxic brew of hostility and Jimmy John’s, the green army opened their road campaign with a 13-2 win against the Cy Creek Cougars. After defending their home turf against insurgents from Cypress for two consecutive weeks, Coach Salinas mobilized the Spartans to go and hit them where they live. Keely Meeks threw a wobbly no-hitter, walking 5 and allowing 2 runs but striking out 4. This was more than enough cover fire to allow the Spartan offense to inflict its damage. The loudest explosions were provided by Darcy Broaddus and Eva Esparza, who mashed a pair of triples, resulting in Broaddus driving in two runs and Esparza one. Allie Richardson and Meeks each had a pair of RBIs and Caroline Chamberlain had one.
Stratford had the honor of batting first, and Sophie Donnel immediately went on the offensive, drawing a walk and stealing second. Two batters later, Esparza drove a ball into centerfield, which found an inexplicable path through enemy lines to the perimeter fence line. Donnel scored and Esparza wound up on third, triggering a heated debate in the stands about how to score the play. Eventually it was ruled a single and two-base error, denying Esparza a triple (but only temporarily). Mariah Estrada then walked - during which Esparza found an opportunity to come home on a passed ball - and Shayleigh Thomas leaned into a fastball, bringing Allie Richardson to the plate. Richardson lashed a single up the right side, bringing Estrada and Thomas home with her first hit and RBIs of the season. Chamberlain promptly drove in Richardson with her first hit and RBI, accomplishing Stratford’s 5th run and ending the inning by rule of law.
The Cougars staged a minor moment in the bottom of the first when a one-out walk was followed by a hard-hit ball to shortstop. However, Broaddus was there to snatch it, make a 90-degree pivot, and make a left-handed flip to second base to extinguish the threat. The Spartans resumed their attack, with Dulce Soto bunting her way to first and coming home over the course of walks to Broaddus and Esparza. Meeks then sacrificed herself with a fly ball to the centerfielder, more than deep enough to score Broaddus tagging up from third.
Estrada, Thomas, and Richardson then reprised the strategy which had produced results in the first inning. Estrada replicated her walk, Thomas took another pitch off the leg, and Richardson fired another grounder up the right side, but this time the second baseman was able to make a play to end the inning.
In the bottom of the second, Meeks’s targeting system went on the fritz. After a quick strikeout, the Cougars accepted four consecutive walks. Thomas was stalwart behind the plate, permitting no one to score other than the single batter whom geometry dictated must. This triggered a meeting in the pitcher’s circle, with all infielders assembling around Meeks to discuss God knows what. Eventually the congregation was dispersed by the umpire.
After another visit – this one from Coach Salinas – Meeks dialed back in, allowing a second run on a fielder’s choice when Chamberlain alertly fired home to force the second out, but Thomas’s foot was judged to be on the part of the carpet painted brown rather than the portion painted white.
Stratford saved the loudest fireworks for their final inning at the plate. Chamberlain led off with the hardest ball hit to that point, but it went straight to the shortstop, who converted the out. Soto then worked a deep count, and when the home-plate umpire called ball three (rather than ball four), the Spartan fans exercised a heretofore unknown right to require a review. The call was overturned and Soto walked, as did Donnel. Broaddus then stepped to the plate and lasered a line drive to deep left field, which over the next four seconds caused the left fielder to progress through all seven stages of grief. The ball flew over her head just as Bargaining gave way to Anger, and by the time Acceptance set in, Broaddus was on third with a two-run triple. Esparza, denied a triple so cruelly in the first inning, then came by one honestly by driving a ball deep into the left centerfield gap, and then scored on Meeks’s grounder to third.
Laura De La Rosa and Kyla Vazquez then filled the bases back up by drawing walks and moving Meeks to third. Mia Hutchison was unable to progress them farther, bringing Chamberlain to the plate for the second time in the inning. When a low fastball skipped by the catcher, Meeks seized the opportunity and charged home, scoring the Spartans 5th and final run and ending Chamberlain’s plate appearance and, effectively, the game. Mission accomplished.
The Spartans (2-1) play two games this week: Tuesday at home against Northbrook and Friday at Spring Woods. We shall report.