SENECA — The Seneca Lady Irish softball team couldn't have asked for a better start to their week. A combined 37 runs during victories against Westmont on Monday and Tuesday could attest to that.
So it was somewhat surprising that Seneca was embroiled in a low-scoring affair after five and a half innings with the Serena Huskers on Wednesday.
That's when the Lady Irish bats came to life once again as in the two previous days, this time pounding out six runs on seven hits in the bottom of the sixth to break open a 2-2 game and eventually earn a solid 8-2 victory here at Seneca High School.
The Lady Irish (7-1) received a tremendous pitching effort from sophomore hurler Grace Flatness (2-0), who celebrated her 16th birthday in style by posting a complete-game victory where she scattered seven hits while walking just one and striking out nine.
Taylor Bushman, Lyda Robinson, Kylie Winsor, and Claudia Morris all enjoyed two hits each, while Britney Helms, Paige Carpenter, and Hayley Wilson produced big RBI at-bats in the late-inning uprising.
"We're one of those teams that when one person gets going they all go and that's what happened today in the sixth," said veteran Seneca coach Dan Stecken. "The last couple of days we started off big against Westmont in the first few innings. Tonight it wasn't like that and credit to Serena for playing a great game before we finally started driving the ball. I knew with Kelly (Serena coach Baker) being back this year they'd be very well prepared and they were. It was a 2-2 game in the sixth and it could've gone either way. Thankfully we came up on top."
Serena (3-2) got two hits apiece from both Emily Hook and Brianna Engel, along with safeties from Malachi Staton, Cheyenne Banister, and Mackenzie Harris. Engel (3-2) pitched well before the sixth, but suffered the loss ultimately allowing 11 hits, no walks while striking out a pair.
"We knew coming in Seneca was going to be tough especially seeing that they beat Westmont by so many runs," Baker said. "Seneca's always tough so I was very proud that we played five solid innings without making an error before the sixth. They just got on a roll late with that big rally and we just couldn't stop them once they got going."
The Lady Irish got on the board first in the bottom of the second. Morris led off with a single to center, stole second, and went to third on a sacrifice bunt from Flatness. She'd then score on a passed ball to make the score 1-0 after two.
They'd go up 2-0 in the bottom of the third. After one out, Bushman laid down a perfect bunt and beat out the throw for an infield hit. She stole second and scored after a two-out, run-scoring single to left from Winsor.
"I just looked for my pitch and I went up there and told myself I have to hit the ball and get the run in," Winsor said. "That's worked out pretty well for me the last few days."
The Huskers would even things up at 2-2 in the top of the fourth. With one out, Hook walked and went to third after Staton hit one off the fence in right center. Engel then plated Hook with an RBI single while Staton would eventually tally from third on a double steal to even up the contest.
The Lady Irish then exploded in the sixth. Robinson led off with a bunt single, went to second on a passed ball, and came home with the go ahead run after Winsor's second RBI base hit. Then after two were out, Helms followed with a two-run single, Carpenter an RBI double off the fence in center, Wilson a run-scoring single to right and Bushman concluding the huge inning by plating Wilson with an infield single.
All that was left was for Flatness to strike out two of the last four batters she faced in the top of the seventh to end the ballgame.
"It was nice to pitch that well on my birthday even though it was a little tough in that one inning," Flatness said. "I felt pretty confident most of the game and once we got all those runs all I had to do was go out there and finish it off. It was a pretty great feeling."
Seneca 8, Serena 2
SERENA (2) — T. Staton ss 4-0-0-0, Shannon 2b 3-0-0-0, M. Holdiman cf 3-0-0-0, Hook 3b 2-1-2-0, M. Staton 1b 3-1-1-0, Engel p 3-0-2-1, Kuhn cr 0-0-0-0, Bannister c 3-0-1-0, E. Holdiman lf 3-0-0-0, Harris rf 3-0-1-0. Totals 27-2-7-1.
SENECA (8) — Bushman cf 4-1-2-1, Robinson ss 4-1-2-0, Winsor 1b 3-1-2-2, Jashari pr 0-0-0-0, Draves c 3-0-0-0, Morris 3b 3-2-2-0, Flatness p 2-0-0-0, Helms lf 3-1-1-2, Carpenter dp 3-1-1-1, Wilson 2b 3-1-1-1, Culbreth rf 0-0-0-0. Totals 28-8-11-7.
Serena (3-2) 000 200 0 — 2 7 1
Seneca (7-1) 011 006 x — 8 11 0
LOB — Serena 5; Seneca 3. 2B — Carpenter. SB — M. Staton, Kuhn, Bushman, Robinson, Morris, Wilson. CS — Kuhn. SAC — Flatness.
Serena ip r er h bb k
Engel (L, 3-2) 6.0 8 8 11 0 2
Flatness (W, 2-0) 7.0 2 2 7 1 9