by Eddie Chisham
Contributing Sports Writer
At home on May 16, Spectrum Sting softball beat Harding High School in five innings convincingly, 16-2. The Sting move on to a 12-4 record, and will have home field advantage in their first sections game on May 19.
Effective base running played an important role in their victory.
“We just try to stay aggressive because that’s the best way for us to move runners,” Spectrum head coach Rob Rogers said. “If you get a walk and steal second base, it’s the same as a double. That’s been our philosophy.”
In this game, the philosophy worked well. Of their 14 successful steals, Spectrum stole home for a run five times. Their opportunistic base running quickly turned their early 0-2 deficit into a 16-2 lead.
Their 16-0 run was led by their first two hitters, Ellie Rogers and Elizabeth Hackbarth.
“(Hackbarth) is probably the fastest runner at our school,” coach Rogers said.
Hackbarth had a perfect game, hitting 1.000. Her first at-bat was a walk, and she followed it up by stealing home.
“She’s really on fire lately,” coach Rogers said. “She’s batting .750 for us which is really unheard of.”
Her next trip to the plate was even more successful. She smacked a triple, netting two RBIs. She would end up stealing home once again. In that same inning, Hackbarth had yet another single and a run.
“She’s confident right now. She feels like she can hit every pitch,” coach Rogers said.
Hackbarth’s offensive confidence is translating to defense too. Coach Rogers said she is calling good games behind the plate as a catcher, and it is really helping Ellie Rogers’ pitching.
According to coach Rogers, the pitching game plan was to not hit the edges, only throwing fastballs and changeups down the middle. As a result, Ellie Rogers didn’t have the best game on paper with an opposing batting average of .333.
However, she executed the game plan well, pitching 30 strikes of her 43 total. She allowed just four hits, and two runs came as a result of defensive errors.
“Her changeup was working today and that’s really been the key for us,” coach Rogers said. “They hit her on her fastballs because we didn’t want to work the edges intentionally.”
Ellie Rogers also performed well at the plate. She hit .500 and had an RBI. Although she was only on base twice, she managed to rip off two steals.
“She’s an excellent base runner,” coach Rogers said. “She gets a great jump on the ball, she’s got good mechanics when she runs the bases and she’s a really good all-around softball player.”
Ellie Rogers had two chances in the second inning. In the second at-bat, she struck out swinging. According to coach Rogers, that has been a problem for the whole team at times.
“Slow pitchers have really been our nemesis,” he said. “It’s been tough for a lot of our girls to wait until the ball gets there rather than assuming speed.”
Another point of frustration for coach Rogers has been untimely defensive lapses. They opened the game with two defensive errors in the first inning. Both led to runs.
“If there are two things that coaches hate, it’s errors in the field and striking out looking,” coach Rogers said. “It seems like we are having our errors in untimely spots. If you have an error with a runner on third, it really hurts.”
Still, the Sting played well enough to rest some players, including Hackbarth and Ellie Rogers, by the third inning. This gave coach Rogers a good opportunity to have a look at the backups and JV players with sections coming up on May 19.
“We will probably bring a couple of the girls up,” coach Rogers said. “We’ll have the normal starting rotation, but if it looks like someone isn’t having a good at bat, we’ll make some changes quickly for sure.”
Heading into the sections on May 19, Spectrum will have a rare chance at back-to-back practices and home field advantage on game day.
“We feel pretty good that we get a home section game coming this weekend,” coach Rogers said. “For us to be able to get practice and then a home game is important. We really love our field.”