LINCOLN — Through the earliest section of this season, Lincoln High had serious problems connecting with opposing pitches. Part of that had to do with the foul weather and yet another the absence of sophomore Alyssa Schermerhorn.
Head coach Dick Ryan’s designated hitter, who finished with a .350 average last spring, previously had suffered a broken ankle, and she wasn’t due back until about mid-season.
He nevertheless put her in the lineup Wednesday afternoon for a bout against Cranston West – based on its 5-1 league start a championship-banner candidate – and the Lions were both surprised and pleased with her debut.
Schermerhorn was a perfect 4-for-4 with a game-ending double, three RBI and a run scored to pace the Lions’ easier-than-expected 11-1 “mercy-rule” triumph over the overwhelmed Falcons at Saylesville Elementary’s Sullivan Field.
“We’ve hit the ball really well the last two games (the first a 10-1 victory over Chariho), and this is the first time I’ve been able to use my DH (Schermerhorn),” Ryan stated after his club not only remained unbeaten at 7-0 overall but continued its consecutive-tilt win streak to 28 (dating back to Lincoln’s Division II title-clinching campaign).
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“It was really nice to have her come back, and she did with flying colors,” he continued. “The last two, we’ve scored 21 runs and had 36 hits, so I hope our offense is coming around.
“I’m not stunned by Alyssa’s hitting, but I’m glad, for sure. We’re doing a lot of work on it, and finally we’re seeing it come around.”
Schermerhorn wasn’t the lone offensive key in this blowout: Junior McKenzie Cavanaugh finished 2-for-2 with three RBI and two runs scored, not to mention a suicide-squeeze and sacrifice bunt; sophomore Stacy Mayer 3-for-3 with a walk, RBI and run; senior Emily Bouthillette 2-for-4, two runs; and sophomore Adriana Toro 1-for-4, two RBI, run.
Senior righty Lindsay Mayer did help herself at the plate with an RBI single, but she was better on the rubber. In six full frames, she scattered six hits (without a walk, though she did hit a batter) and fanned a half-dozen.
“I thought I pitched well, but not great by any means,” Mayer explained after the verdict. “I’ve been off a little bit lately because I’m not used to pitching this much; I took some time off during the off-season.
“I’m satisfied with my location, but not my speed; I think that will come as the season progresses,” she added. “But I thought our offense helped a lot. We’ve been focused a lot lately on hitting. We knew (before crushing Chariho on Monday) we were going to have two of our hardest games because of their records, so we were going to have to swing the bats.”
Lincoln earned a 2-0 cushion in the first when Toro reached on a one-out, infield throwing miscue, moved to second on Lindsay Mayer’s groundout and took third on senior Emily Bouthillette’s single to left.
Mayer’s kid sister Stacy then ripped a single to the same spot to plate Toro, and Schermerhorn’s hit to right scored Bouthillette with what became the game-winning run.
It looked like Cranston West (6-2, 5-2) would take the lead in the fourth, after the elder Mayer hit leadoff batter Kristen Traficante, then allowed senior captains Courtney Salisbury and Kelly McDonough back-to-back hits; those juiced the bags.
Lindsay whiffed both Laura Isacco and Lauren Salisbury, though sophomore Ana Viccione poked a bloop single in front of junior second baseman Meredith Walsh to plate Traficante.
With the bases still full, Cassie Manni flew to center to end the threat.
The Lions reacted to the ruined shutout with four in the back half, and they sent nine to the plate in the process.
Stacy Mayer opened it with a walk, and Ryan immediately replaced her with pinch-runner Crystal Gaudreau. Schermerhorn pushed her to second with a single, and sophomore Lauren Hervieux grounded to short, putting Gaudreau and Schermerhorn in scoring position.
That’s when Cavanaugh, who had taken third on a wild pitch, executed a superb suicide-squeeze bunt to score Gaudreau, and Walsh reached on a fielder’s choice. Junior Casie Beauchemin then walked to load the bases again, and Toro followed with a line-drive hit to right to plate Cavanaugh and Walsh.
In the process, Ryan’s crew led 5-1; Lindsay Mayer’s single to center scored Beauchemin from third for the five-run advantage.
“Coach had told me on the first pitch I could swing away, but on the second he told me to try the suicide,” Cavanaugh smiled later. “It worked out great, thank God! On the double, I thought it was a low pitch, but I went with the pitch.
“I was hitting poorly at the beginning of the season, and it’s because I was feeling anxious, I think,” she continued. “Now I listen to my nice, soothing music between at-bats and it calms me down. We wanted to come out with our heads in the game, and we wanted to jump on top right away, and we did that.”
The Lions broke it open in the fifth with five hits, including Cavanaugh’s two-run, opposite-field double to right and the same’s robbing of the dish on a double-steal (also involving Walsh).
The hosts enforced the 10-run “mercy rule” the following frame when Bouthillette whacked a one-out ground single to left, Stacy Mayer did the same and Schermerhorn cracked a two-run double to the right-center gap.
All told, Falcons’ senior hurler Kelly McDonough went 5 1/3 innings, allowed 16 hits and two walks, though didn’t strike out any.
“I’m pleased with Alyssa, but also McKenzie,” Ryan offered. “She’s been working on her game, and it’s starting to pay off. Our last two games, she’s belted three doubles, so I hope it continues.”