SOFTBALL: Manteno brings the big bats in win at Reed-Custer
BRAIDWOOD — Manteno completed the second half of a home-and-home sweep of Reed-Custer in dominating fashion Tuesday, taking down the Comets 12-2 in five innings on the strength of another excellent start from pitcher Kori Fricke.
Fricke scattered nine hits, walked two, allowed two earned runs and struck out three to earn her second win against the Comets in as many days to improve the Panthers’ overall standing to 17-5.
Though the Comets had no shortage of baserunners in the rematch, Manteno’s excellent defensive play and Fricke’s affinity for pitching with runners on base kept the home team off the scoreboard and kept things comfortable for the visiting Panthers.
“I’m grateful. My team is literally amazing, and it’s just so easy to go out there and do what I do with them behind me,” Fricke said. “They’re unexplainable; I love them. If one person has a problem, another will just come in and pick them up. We’ve been playing together for a while.
“We’re a close-knit team, and I think that has a lot to do with it. We know whose strengths are what, so we can all cover for one another and contribute to make every goal easier to achieve.
The Panthers struck first in the top of the first on a sacrifice bunt from Lexi Bowdish that scored lead-off hitter Kaycie Wenzel, but the Comets answered right back in their half of the inning with an RBI double from Calla Kmetz.
The second inning was the difference-maker, as Manteno rattled off another five runs.
The Comets’ defense became an issue in the pivotal second inning, as three of the Panthers’ five runs resulted from defensive mishaps. Manteno’s batting order took every inch it was given and excelled in exploiting the Comets’ mistakes.
“It’s one of the nice things about having a team full of athletic girls, especially girls that are pretty quick,” Panthers coach Josh Carlile said. “They’re not all super fast, but we work really hard on baserunning and taking advantage of opportunities when they’re given to us.
“We’ve been getting a little bit hotter with the bats as the season’s gone around,” he added. “We have nine or 10 girls that can come up at any time and put the bat on the ball and put it in play solid, and I think that makes it hard to pitch to our offense due to the fact that there isn’t really anyone you can pitch around.”
Fricke also led the way at the plate with a 3-for-3 day that resulted in three RBIs. Lexi Bowdish added to her first-inning sac fly with a double and two hit-by-pitches. She finished with two RBIs, along with Lanie Malone, who knocked in two of her own, and Wenzel picked up two hits and scored four times. Maddie Lacer went 2 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored.
Antoinette Hill took the loss for Reed-Custer, allowing nine runs before being relieved by Abrey Ricketts to start the fifth inning. Kmetz was a silver lining for the Comets in the loss, going 3 for 3 with a double and an RBI.
The Comets’ loss dropped their season standing to 10-11-1 overall.