Crusaders celebrate first win of the season

News-DemocratApril 16, 2014 

— The Althoff Crusaders got their first win and the positive reinforcement for their hard work that first-year coach Carol Belleville has been wanting for them.

Sophomore pitcher Lindsey Harris allowed only six hits and she drove in her team's first two runs with a triple as the Crusaders beat the Granite City Warriors 9-2 Wednesday in a battle of softball teams in rebuilding mode.

"It's awesome,'' Belleville said. "They're excited, I'm excited. We talked yesterday about having a little more enthusiasm on the bench and cheering on each other, and they came through and did that.''

The Crusaders now are 1-10 this season.

"A lot of firsts -- a win, the most runs we've scored, the least amount errors,'' Belleville said. "That's good for them, they needed that. Those are just huge confidence builders.''

Harris struck out nine and walked only one.

"She was injured in the beginning of the season and came out a little late,'' Belleville said of Harris, who allowed seven hits and one earned run in an 8-0 loss to Mount Vernon on Tuesday. "I knew Lindsey was going to pitch at least one game this week, and with the way she pitched yesterday, it was a pretty easy to decision for her to pitch today.''

The Warriors fell to a 1-13 under coach Whitney Sykes, a former standout basketball and softball player at the school.

"A lot of inexperience out there right now,'' said Sykes, who had four freshman in her lineup against the Crusaders. "We're trying to find players in different positions. We're trying them every where. It seems like no matter what we do, that ball is going to be hit in that area as soon as we make a change. Automatic. We're doing the best we can with them, and they're trying hard. It's hard when you haven't played at this level before, and all of the sudden here it is.''

The Crusaders had 10 hits, including a 3-for-3 performance from Carly Bowman.

The Crusaders got two runs in the second inning as Tori Lanaghan and Julia Michaels both walked and Harris tripled with two outs.

"Normally, she is a switch-hitter, but she has been struggling and she asked me if she could hit from the right side,'' Belleville said of Harris.

Harris scored on the play on a throwing error to third base from the outfield.

The Warriors got a run in the third inning when Sam Boyd singled, stole second base and scored on a double by Caitlyn Patrick.

Laura Simoneaux's two-run single in the third inning put the Crusaders up 5-1.

The Crusaders added four runs in the fourth inning with a single by Bowman triggering the rally.

Granite City pitcher Maddie Schultz struck out four batters in the fourth, but two of those batters reached base on dropped third strikes.

Schultz struck out 16 batters in six innings.

"I told them, 'Listen guys, she's had most of the outs. Ninety percent of the outs are on her. You have to help her out a little bit,''' Sykes said.

The Warriors got their other run in the sixth inning as Patrick reached on an error and scored on a single by Schultz that got past the center fielder.

Contact reporter Steve Korte at skorte@bnd.com or 239-2522.

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