TALLMADGE: One player’s misfortune turned out to be another one’s opportunity Thursday afternoon.
Sophomore Kali Stroud seized the moment in a big way and provided Tallmadge with some welcome offensive support in a 6-1 nonleague victory over visiting Ellet.
A pleasant, sunny day briefly turned gloomy when Blue Devils senior shortstop Sierra Bennett shrieked in pain after sliding home safely on a passed ball that gave Tallmadge (12-2) a 3-1 first-inning lead.
Bennett suffered an apparent knee injury on the play and had to be carried off after several long minutes on the ground.
Stroud took her place in the lineup and made an impact. She doubled leading off the third inning and eventually scored the fourth run, then cranked a two-run home run, her second of the season, to make it 6-1 in the fourth.
It turned out to be more than enough for Tallmadge senior right-hander Kirsten Lightel (10-2), who allowed only an unearned run in the first which gave Ellet (6-3) a brief lead.
“That was probably one of the hardest hits I’ve ever had,” said Stroud, a right-handed hitter who drove a full-count pitch high over the left-field line. “Probably one of the furthest hits I’ve ever had, ever.
“I just kind of wanted to go in there and help out any way I could because of what happened with Sierra. That’s obviously not the way I want to get in the game, but if I get in the game I want to make the best of it.”
Tallmadge coach Ed Seeker is hoping to get some encouraging news regarding Bennett’s injury.
“It is a knee and we don’t believe it’s an [anterior cruciate ligament] ACL, maybe an MCL [medial collateral ligament],” said Seeker. “But we’ve just got to wait until [Friday] after the swelling goes down. Hopefully, it’s not bad. She is a very key component to our team, the No. 3 hitter.
“But we have a strong team. We have a pretty deep team and I expect us to just try to pick it up and go from there.”
Ellet junior Emily Murray reached on an error leading off the first and scored on a one-out grounder by junior Laura Lakins.
Senior Taylor Phillips also reached on an error to start the Tallmadge first and Lightel bunted for a single. A throwing error, followed by Joanna Catalano’s fielder’s choice grounder made it 2-1, just before Bennett scored on the passed ball.
In the third, Stroud doubled down the left-field line, Catalano walked and senior Tori Young smacked a run-scoring single to right. Tallmadge sophomore Lexi Philen singled leading off the fourth and rode home on Stroud’s blast.
Meanwhile, Lightel scattered four hits and struck out 10 — all on swinging third strikes — and didn’t allow a walk.
“Our bats have done pretty well lately,” said Lightel. “It’s always nice as a pitcher to get that going as early as possible.
“I kept them off the bases as much as I could. Tori — my catcher — and I work together calling pitches. Mostly everything was working today. My rise ball’s been working pretty well for me lately.”
Young and Philen each contributed a pair of singles in the Blue Devils’ nine-hit attack. Sophomore Alyssa Cook had two hits for Ellet.
“[Tallmadge] is the best team we’ve played,” said Ellet coach Chuck Shuman. “They’re a very mature team and a very confident team and they expect to win. We expect to win, but they played a little better than we did today.”