MECHANICSVILLE – The setup mirrored that of their game-tying inning.
Hanover had a runner on base, and that runner moved into scoring position off of a teammate’s groundout. Then, just as Rylan Hubbard had helped her teammate Savannah Thorne reach home by bouncing the ball off the second baseman’s glove to knot up Friday’s ballgame at 1-1, Julia Mardigian drove in Leslie Currie on a fireball of a line drive hit to center field to elevate the home team into a one-run lead.
Similar approaches in the fourth and sixth innings and a hot-hitting performance from Thorne helped the Hawks fend off visiting Powhatan 6-4 and stay unbeaten at 4-0 after Friday.
“We did a good job putting the ball in play, hitting hard in play, and we did a really good job running the bases for the most part – couple mistakes but not too bad,” Hanover head coach Mike Rohr said.
Thorne batted three-for-three including a double in the sixth to set up her run off the groundball single from Bella Pastore, as well as a two-RBI single down the right side of the field that grew Hanover’s lead to 4-1 in the bottom of the third. Thorne also scored the run that tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the second.
Julia Mardigian batted two-for-three with the go-ahead RBI double in the third inning.
In the circle, Hanover’s Ellen Palya pitched all seven innings to earn the win with nine strikeouts, one walk and three earned runs allowed. She and her defense overcame two homers launched by Powhatan and a bases-loaded situation with the Indians trailing by two runs in the top of the sixth inning.
“Ellen was fantastic – she’s been fantastic all year so far; when she’s throwing strikes, she’s tough,” Rohr said. “She…made some big pitches, and give them credit, they hit a couple pretty good pitches outside and she did a really good job…especially coming back after a big hit…when they were threatening [in the sixth] I think she made some great pitches to get us out of there and keep us where we needed to be.”
The Hawks’ fielders hustled after pop-flies in foul territory, with infielders Mardigian and Leslie Currie each chasing one down in the fourth inning and freshman catcher Jenna Currie making a huge catch right next to the fence behind the dish to pull her Hawks out of the bases-loaded jam in the sixth.
“Jenna’s been working really hard behind the plate and Julian and Leslie…they know what they’re doing,” Rohr said. “They’re just out there running, playing hard and making plays and that’s fun.”
Powhatan sophomore Sarah English’s bat was on fire through her first three at-bats. She rocketed a solo homer - her first career home run - over the center field fence in the top of the second inning to help her team lead 1-0, then smashed two doubles deep into the outfield in her next two plate appearances, including one for an RBI to drive in her sophomore teammate Kayla Davis and shrink Hanover’s lead to 5-3 in the sixth. English overall batted three-for-four with two RBI.
Davis’ last two at-bats were incendiary, as she also clobbered an RBI double to score Rileigh De Weese in the sixth inning, then sailed a two-out solo blast over the left field fence in the top of the seventh.
But the bats surrounding the middle of the lineup struggled to get going for the Indians, and two infield errors enabled two of Hanover’s six runs to get on base.
“We’re gonna better and better and better, but tonight we had opportunity and…we didn’t take advantage of opportunity,” Powhatan head coach Marie Crump said. “Offensively…we left quite a few on base and we made some defensive errors that I wouldn’t anticipate us typically making…if we could’ve changed those things around, I think we are as good as that team that we just played.”
Powhatan did catch three runners stealing, with shortstop Madison Hayden tagging out two at second.
Hanover saw speedy courtesy runner Zoie Melton tear around the basepaths in the bottom of the fourth inning. After Pastore reached first on an error to put Melton on base, Melton sped to third on Hubbard’s groundout, then barreled home on Regan Patrick’s bunt, beating the short toss to the catcher to score the run.
Hanover (4-0) returns to action Monday at Chancellor and then plays at Henrico on Tuesday before concluding the week at crosstown Region 4B rival Patrick Henry’s field on Thursday.
“I think they really wanted to get this one because that was the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year,” Rohr said. “That’s a nice thing, but I think we can do better. But it’s nice to get a win against a really quality team early in the year to get yourself going down the road.”
Powhatan (1-3) will look to bounce back at home on Tuesday versus Jefferson District opponent Western Albemarle.