UNION TWP. | Wednesday's game was more indicative of a Whiting-Wheeler softball tilt.
Earlier in the season the Bearcats beat the Oilers by nine runs. But on Wednesday, a scoreless game headed into the sixth inning and both pitchers — Wheeler’s Nickole Finch and Whiting’s Mollie Lovasko — combined for 19 strikeouts.
It was the Times No. 4 Bearcats’ offense that broke through in the sixth inning with three straight hits leading to a 2-0 victory.
Finch missed matching her strikeout total from the first Whiting game by one with 15, including the last three outs to seal the win. The Oilers (8-3, 3-3 GSSC) had a couple scoring chances against her, including in the fifth inning in which freshmen Courtney Blackwell and Sydney Neyhart led off with singles. After a sacrifice bunt by Alex Danielides, Finch did what she does best — struck out back-to-back hitters.
“We had a chance to score against Finch, which doesn’t happen too often,” Whiting coach Paul Laub said. “We usually struggle against Finch, but her change-up was working well today.”
Lovasko had eight strikeouts, all in the first four innings with the Wheeler hitters figuring her out later, especially in the sixth.
Finch led off that key inning with a flyout before Angelisa Vukin had a bloop single, then a scalded double by Karessa Sweeney and a two-run single by Faith Barajas.
“It’s good to see Faith come through with the RBI hit,” Wheeler coach Marc Bruner said. “And ‘bug’ (Sweeney) had a good game, too.”
Sweeney and Alyssa Boatner each had two hits for the Bearcats (10-1, 7-0). Sweeney’s first hit was a rarity: a line drive that hit directly off the third base bag and into the air with Whiting’s third baseman catching it.
“I had to think for a second if that was a hit (which it was),” Bruner said.
Bruner was happy with his team's success moving runners into scoring position in a couple innings in which they didn’t score.
“I thought we executed in small-ball situations well,” he said. “We haven’t had many of those this season.”
The coach wasn’t happy with the missed opportunities from that small-ball success.
“No excuse ... our hitters’ approach was wrong (in the first five innings),” he said. “They couldn’t lay off the rise ball.”
The Greater South Shore Conference games are harder for the Bearcats, who are still undefeated in conference play and have Times No. 5 Bishop Noll on Thursday and No. 2 Hanover Central on Friday.