The play that defined the Rock Bridge and Battle softball game was a dive and a dance.
Battle’s big-hitting first baseman stepped to the plate in the bottom of the fifth. Aubrei Roland took the pitcher’s first offering for a ball. In center field, Rock Bridge junior Maddie Snider crept forward as her pitcher delivered the second pitch.
A booming fly ball cracked off Roland’s bat, headed heading deep in the right-center gap. Snider sprinted back and to her left. The ball seemed to hang in the air until Snider dove, throwing out her glove to her backhand side. She got up, dancing, ball in glove.
Rock Bridge’s second baseman, who had run out in case a cut-off throw was needed, was only useful for high-fives.
The Bruins went on to win the game 8-0, their second regular-season win in a row against the Spartans.
Battle coach Joe Henderson was as impressed as anyone with the catch in center. He thinks of it as the game’s defining moment.
“Plays like that are game-turning plays,” he said. “I think if she does not make that play, we might win that game. I think that was the play of the game.”
Snider might have had the play of the game, but Rock Bridge’s pitcher, Ella Schouten, had little competition for player of the game. The junior was lights-out for all seven innings. Schouten threw for seven strikeouts and one walk for a three-hit complete-game shutout of the Spartans.
Schouten said her game plan centered around getting ahead in the batting count.
“I was just really honed in on focusing and working on a couple things in my game and really perfecting those on the mound, and I think it really showed tonight,” Schouten said.
Schouten looked as dominant in the batter’s box as she did on the rubber. She was 3-4 at the plate with one RBI and no strikeouts.
Also with multiple-hit nights for the Bruins was second baseman Margo Frossard, first baseman Mackenzie White and right fielder Anna Christ.
Battle’s Mya McCubbin stumbled in the first inning when she gave up two runs, but quickly regained her groove in the circle. She cruised through five scoreless innings, until Rock Bridge caught up to her riseball. A bad hop here, a double there, and singles everywhere totaled to six runs in the final inning to seal the game 8-0 for the Bruins.
Throughout the game, Battle struggled at the dish. The Spartans were held to less than five hits, and no batter recorded more than one.
Rock Bridge credits its victory to solid defense and a sound game plan.
“Just settling in and having good at-bats and sticking to our plan is the big thing,” coach Lisa Simmons said. “We didn’t put up any runs in those first six innings and we didn’t have those clutch hits, but hitting is not always going to be there, but pitching and defense will be.”
Battle has a quick day off and is back at 5 p.m. Thursday on the road against Fatima.
Rock Bridge has a quick turnaround and will travel to take on North Callaway at 5 p.m. Wednesday in Auxvasse.