HAMMOND | Maybe the official scorer could have changed a double to a single and advancement on the throw, because then Melissa Balkema would have a rarity in softball.
Instead, she just had a really, really good game in the second half of a Greater South Shore Conference doubleheader on Saturday in which her Times No. 2 Hanover Central squad swept No. 5 Bishop Noll 10-0 and 8-1.
After going 0-for-3 in the first game and the only Wildcat not to score a run, she went 4-for-4 in the matinee, missing a rare cycle by a single. Instead, she had two doubles, a triple and a three-run home run and scored all four times she batted.
“I guess I can’t give back a double,” she joked. “Maybe it was the food (in between games). I adjusted to the pitcher, who was a little slower.”
In the first game, Hanover’s offense was more balanced with a pair of home runs — a two-run shot from Alexis Mokos and a three-run blast from Ashley Yoways, who also pitched both games since the GSSC race is quite close.
“We could have gone 1-1 or 0-2, so winning two is pretty good,” said Hanover coach Larry McMillen, stating the obvious. “I thought Ashley got a little tired at the end with some pitches a little high. I can’t remember having a team in which we put the ball in play one through nine in the lineup.”
That includes four freshmen in the starting lineup, which makes a junior like Balkema very happy.
“They’re amazing freshmen who have really stepped up and earned their spots,” she said.
Yoways struck out 18 hitters in 12 total innings, keeping Bishop Noll (10-3, 5-3) off balance.
“Ashley’s a very good pitcher and we really couldn’t put the ball in play,” Noll coach Rich Sobilo said. “We also gave them four errors in that first game, leading to a six-run inning. In the second half of the second game we started hitting better. But you can’t give good teams four or five outs and we gave them seven outs in that inning.”
The wins keep Hanover (14-2, 6-0) undefeated in the GSSC with a pair of games left with fellow GSSC undefeated squad Wheeler — both of them this coming week thanks to a rescheduled rainout from last week.
“The 'Big Guy' said we needed to prove a point today,” Balkema said, referring to McMillen. “I’m really looking forward to facing Wheeler and see how we do against (pitcher) Nickole Finch.”