Upper Moreland plays aggressive in win over Springfield

SPRINGFIELD TWP. — Few things can put a softball into total disarray like an aggressive baserunner.

Whether it’s attempting a steal, trying for an extra base on a hit or putting on extra pressure on a miscue, a hard-charging runner can put panic into an infield. That was half of Upper Moreland’s plan Tuesday, the other half was making sure its defense didn’t allow that to happen.

The Golden Bears put their speed to use in a 6-3 win over Springfield Twp on the Spartans’ home field. Springfield, a little shorthanded, tied the game in the third but couldn’t string together the hits it needed to chase down the Bears again.

“We did a lot of good things in our at-bats,’ Upper Moreland coach Scott Ludlow said. “We took advantage of some opportunities, we ran the bases extremely well today and played stellar defense.’

Bears pitcher Amber O’Connor made sure her defense wouldn’t have to worry about many potential runners, holding the Spartans to four hits, walked two and hit another batter. She struck out six and aside from an error and one wild pitch, played a clean game that made it easy for the fielders behind her.

The top of Upper Moreland’s lineup did much of the damage with 1-2-3 hitters Alexa Wister, Maddie Mull and Allie Miller causing havoc with their bats and on the base paths. Wister reached three times and scored each time while Mull had a run, a double and kept Springfield’s defense on its toes. Miller reached four times and had a hit in her final three at-bats, including two doubles while also coming up with the game-ending double play.

“We definitely knew coming into it that we needed to be aggressive,’ Miller, the third baseman, said. “It’s a good team, we’re pretty equally matched. It was a close game last time and last time, I felt that we might have fallen asleep for an inning or two so we knew we had to keep the pressure on.’

Springfield Twp didn’t have its dynamic leadoff hitter, shortstop Jewell Ringgold and a couple of other players had to step into different roles. Junior pitcher Jen Hammons, who had thrown on Monday, didn’t have her best stuff, but still battled gamely and worked through some difficult situations.

“I think they feed off her, especially once we get the first out,’ Spartans coach Curt Cyliax said. “Once they get the first out you can see it in the body language and facial expression, you know she’s in charge. She works through it, she’s a trooper. She pitched yesterday when we were even more shorthanded and she pitched through it.’

Upper Moreland wasted little time getting started, when Wister led off with a bunt single, moved up on Mull’s sac bunt then scored when Miller hit into a fielder’s choice and scored herself on an error. Mull would walk in the second, advancing to third on Miller’s ground-rule double then scored when Jenn Freeman put down a bunt that allowed Mull to go home on the throw to first.

The Bears didn’t have that one crushing hit, but their legs were plenty good enough. Five of their six runs scored on Springfield miscues, four via error and the fifth on a passed ball in the fourth inning. Upper Moreland also put down plenty of bunts, where the team’s speed prompted Springfield to make a quick play, which wasn’t always clean.

“We’re still making some mental errors we shouldn’t be making at this point in the season,’ Cyliax said. “Part of it is because we have girls in different positions and part of it is we’re just making mental mistakes that we shouldn’t make. We have to work on those and keep it going.’

Springfield’s offense finally caught a break in the third when DP Anita Anderson scored on a single by Brianna Littlepage. Katelun Gilinger, Ringgold’s replacement at short and leadoff, and Littlepage later scored on a wild pitch, giving the Bears a little taste of what they were selling. Gilinger did a nice job, reaching three times and working long at-bats when she came up.

After the Spartans had tied it, the Bears came right back and continued to do what they had been doing the entire game.

“We knew we needed to keep each other up,’ Miller said. “We knew bunting was going to be a huge thing for us today and we have a lot of quick girls who can get that job done. We’re definitely an offensive team.’

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