Rangers fight growing pains in opening loss

Photos by Traci Westcott/The Herald
Forest Park's Ali Welp winds up for a pitch during Thursday's softball game at Cedar Crest Intermediate School in Bretzville. North Posey defeated Forest Park 14-4 as the Rangers fought through several growing pains including freshmen, such as Welp, making their varsity debut as well as several returning starters playing at new positions. For more photos from the game, click here.



BRETZVILLE — With several players getting their first look at new positions and several others making their varsity debuts, the Forest Park softball team had to deal with several growing pains during their Opening Day battle.

The Rangers were within striking distance of conference foe North Posey after the third inning but a four run fourth inning and a six-spot in the final stanza helped to carry the Vikings to a 14-4 win on Thursday in Bretzville.

Forest Park started just two seniors on Thursday evening while a pair of freshmen, shortstop/pitcher Ali Welp and center fielder Madison Wathen, were making their varsity debuts.

In addition, the Rangers were also without one of their top hitters in junior Kylie Giesler, who is currently nursing an injury, and several other veteran starters were moved to different positions. With all of this, head coach Kelly Schroering saw several positives to build on moving forward.

“I like our fight — we’re still trying to build more defensively as we find pieces and seeing where they fit,” Schroering said. “(North Posey) hit the ball well — it’s not where we want to be pitching wise but I think it showed that this is (North Posey’s) game two and our game one.”

The Vikings, who opened up their season with an 8-0 loss to Evansville Reitz, scored the first run of the game in the second inning as junior Emily Abernathy brought in freshman Haley Lowe on an RBI groundout.

Forest Park had a couple of hits in the first inning courtesy of junior Kennedy Sermersheim and senior Lydia Hauser as well as a single from junior Ashtyn Welp in the second inning. However, no runs were able to come out of it.

North Posey expanded its lead in the third inning as freshman Julia Fullop kicked off the inning with a triple and then sophomore Jenna Heath made it 2-0 with an RBI single. Immediately after that, junior pitcher Megan Brenton sent a moonshot over the right field wall to make it 4-0 Vikings.

However, Forest Park wasn’t going to go away quietly. Junior Macie Zink kicked off the inning with a leadoff single and then junior Amber Theising waited patiently to draw a walk and put runners on first and second. Then, Sermersheim sent a monster shot over the right field wall for a three-run homer to put the Rangers right back in it, down 4-3. Sermersheim had six home runs for the Rangers last season.

“What I really liked the most about that inning is that Amber (Theising) had the bunt on and she just watched pitches — she made us have a three-run home run instead of a two-run home run,” Schroering said. “Those are the things that I’m liking just one game out, she was patient. We have the hitters who will hit line drives that happen to go out and that’s what we want to see because those are big momentum builders.”

Forest Park's Macie Zink cheers for her teammate up to bat from the dugout during Thursday's game. For more photos from the game, click here.

As it turns out, the Vikings would get a few more of those “momentum builders”. While they didn’t have any homers in the fourth inning, they did score four runs including back-to-back RBI singles from senior Annelise Brown and sophomore Kennedy Hallum to stretch their lead to 8-3.

Forest Park did get a run back in the bottom of the fifth inning as Hauser drove in Zink with an RBI single to make it 8-4 but North Posey’s six-run seventh inning including a three-run rocket of a home run from Lowe sealed the deal for the Vikings.

Kennedy Sermersheim finished 3-of-4 with 3 RBI’s, Macie Zink was 2-of-4 while Lydia Hauser went 2-of-3 with an RBI. Allyson Werner took the loss on the mound as she gave up four earned runs on 11 hits while striking out three. Ali Welp entered the game in the fourth inning in relief and gave up one earned run on five hits while striking out one.

“For their first game out, I look for both of them to keep improving,” said Schroering. “They both have a really strong work ethic and I know they’ll want to improve. The good news is we play a lot more so we’ll have many more chances.”

The Rangers will be back in action on Saturday against Mount Vernon (2-2) at home – that is, if the weather stays nice.

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