Rangers’ internal competition heats up in blowout

By JOHN PATISHNOCK
Herald Sports Writer

BRETZVILLE — The Forest Park softball team made sure Glenn Knies’ job continues to be difficult.

Smith

The Ranger coach said there are two players who could play at every position, so filling out the lineup card before every game takes some thought: what players are hitting well at the time and who can attack that night’s opposing pitcher the best. Those are two considerations.

Tuesday night at Bretzville, every combination worked.

Forest Park trounced Wood Memorial 22-1 in a five-inning runaway, racking up 18 hits and taking advantage of five Trojan errors.

Kayla Smith led off the first inning for Forest Park (6-6) with the first of her two home runs, and seemingly all of her teammates helped out. That’s what makes Knies’ charge increasingly challenging: Everyone is contributing, and it started with Smith.

“I was just trying to be a leader on the team and get things going; being the leadoff batter, you have to get things going from the beginning,” Smith said. “I just wanted to show the team that we could hit this pitcher and that we could do it.”

“Every single position has competition this year, so everybody is working that much harder and trying to stay up on people and make everybody do better,” said junior third baseman Adria Giesler, who finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored and three RBIs. “I think this year we have more competition, it makes us do better.”

Smith smacked four hits in as many at-bats, scored three runs and drove in five; she smashed a solo home run and a run-scoring triple in the Rangers’ eight-run second inning and added a two-run single in the third.

Ericka Lange (5-4) tossed four innings, allowing four hits and a run while striking out three.
Knies said the Rangers have particularly embraced the team concept in the last two weeks, and his players sense it.

“We’ve really been coming together,” Smith said. “We had a few tough games there at the beginning but we’re starting to work together and know that we have each other’s backs on everything.”

“I think we all kind of get along together at practice,” Giesler added. “We work well. Even if we do bad, then somebody is there to tell us, ”˜Hey, you’re going to do better next time.’”

After Smith’s leadoff blast, Katelyn Roos scored on an error and Giesler ripped the first of her three RBI singles. Then in the second, the first five Rangers scored, as Amanda Lange, Ericka Lange, Emily Gutgsell, Kayla Brahm, Giesler and Smith all drove in runs.

“Tonight, we all learned … we have to find our pitch,” Giesler said. “We were hitting really well tonight.”

Taylor Prechtel registered an RBI groundout and Smith lined a single that plated two more. Forest Park’s depth became obvious when the Rangers started subbing but continued scoring. They recorded eight more runs in the fourth.

Mariah Morgan and Taylor Nordhoff each walked and scored, Kacy Gogel lined an RBI single and Madi Giesler blasted a home run — all bench contributions.

“The players that came off the bench, the nonstarters, it was evident that we were still competing for spots,” Knies said.

Also in the fourth, Jordan Voges reached on a fielder’s choice and scored, Giesler and Brahm notched run-scoring singles and Prechtel delivered a two-run triple.

Wood Memorial struggled with the basics. Dropping a popup, falling in the outfield while running after a ball and throwing to an empty base drastically compounded baffling fielding decisions.

Trailing 11-1 while facing a bases-loaded situation in the third, the Trojans brought in their infield even though there were two outs. Then when a simple ground ball could have ended the inning, the Trojans’ second baseman threw home instead of 30 feet to her left for the easy out at first base.

The Rangers scored on the play, setting up Smith’s two-run single. An inning later, they plated eight more and were retired only when Knies told his baserunners to purposely leave early for the third out.

“We’re still creating the competition for those players and they don’t want to go up and just make an out, they’re still competing for a spot,” Knies said. “It was unfortunate for (Wood Memorial), again, but we were just hitting the ball on all cylinders.”

Contact John Patishnock at jpatishnock@dcherald.com.




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