'Mentally tough' Patriots defeat Rangers


BRETZVILLE — When describing her performance on the mound in Tuesday’s conference battle against Forest Park, a common phrase kept coming up for Emma Eubank — “mentally tough”.


It’s safe to say that she was tough both mentally and with her stellar play. The Heritage Hills starting pitcher struck out 10 Ranger batters and didn’t walk anyone in the Patriots’ 4-0 victory in Bretzville on Tuesday evening.

“I feel like I did a good job of staying mentally tough and my catcher behind the plate (Sierra Schipp) was doing a great job of setting me up,” Eubank said. “My curveball was definitely working and I definitely hit my spots better.”

While Eubank has pitched in 13 of the Patriots’ 19 games this season, head coach Joe Asbury wants to make sure he’s conservative with how much time she sees on the mound during the final stretch.

The Pats want to have Eubank as fresh as possible for a potential deep postseason run.

“We’re not going to pitch her every game, it’s just not going to happen,” Asbury said. “When Kyla (Peter) pitches, we’re hoping they can hit the ball at us and make our defense get some ground balls and make some plays. We saw a really good pitcher last night and maybe that helped prepare us to play well tonight.”

Even in the games when she isn’t pitching though, Eubank has still been able to have a major impact no matter where she plays in the field. She’s also made a mark with her bat as she’s currently hitting .311 with 19 hits and 15 runs driven in.

“I just always try to do my best and keep my energy up,” Eubank said. “I try to make sure I always stay mentally tough throughout the whole thing.”

In Tuesday’s game, neither team was able to get much going right away. Mariah Zoglman notched a single for the Patriots and Kennedy Sermersheim had a double for Forest Park in their respective first at-bats but neither were brought home to score.

The Patriots (11-7-1, 4-1) took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning after Kyla Peter started things with a double and Mallory Garrison reached via a single. With a runner on third base, Summer Weedman scored Peter with an RBI groundout to make it 1-0 Heritage Hills.

Forest Park (9-7, 1-6) looked in prime position to score in the second inning as singles from Allyson Werner and Ali Welp put runners on first and second. However, Eubank recorded two consecutive strikeouts for Heritage Hills to keep the Rangers off the board.

“We just couldn’t string our hits together,” Forest Park head coach Kelly Schroering said. “We had some nice hits but couldn’t do anything with them. You have to have clutch hits in those tough situations.”

One of the turning moments in the game happened in the top of the third inning. After Eubank reached base with a walk and Zoglman reached with a single, the Patriots had runners on first and second with power hitter Lauren Caswell coming to the plate.

Schroering and the Rangers decided to intentionally walk Caswell, who has an eye popping batting average of .590 with 20 extra-base hits and 21 RBIs, to put the force at any base.

However, the fourth batter in the lineup Haley Waninger ripped a two-RBI single to put the Patriots ahead 3-0.

“I’ll own that one,” Schroering said. “I’ve just seen what (Caswell) is capable of and I know she’s a big gamer. Credit to (Waninger) for doing her job, that was the big difference in the game.”

Asbury added: “We were really proud of (Waninger) for coming up big for us there. We told Lauren at the beginning of the season that (she’s going to get walked) at times — we just have to trust the people behind her and tonight Haley got it done.”

The Patriots added another run in the sixth inning as Schipp drove in Garrison with an RBI single to put Heritage Hills up 4-0.

Forest Park had some big hits in the final few innings including a triple from Kylie Giesler. However, the Rangers were unable to bring in any runs to score.

The Rangers had solid pitching performances from both Werner and Welp. Werner gave up just five hits while striking out one while Welp gave up just three hits while striking out two.

“Both of them are willing to step up whenever I need them,” Schroering said. “They’re both getting experience as we go and I trust both of them in the circle.”

For the Patriots, they’re still hoping to tidy up some of the small things down the final stretch of the regular season.

If they can do that, the team feels confident in what they can accomplish.

“If we get down, we need to make sure we keep our energy up,” Eubank said. “If we do that from the beginning, then we can put our foot down and keep going.”

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