Amity changes focus
Certainly no one on the Warriors softball team is reminiscing about it.
With their 4-1 win Tuesday afternoon vs. Perrydale (3-2), the Warriors (4-1) have four wins on the early season, two wins shy of their total of six from last year.
Amity coach Don Zapata said the turnaround is attributed to a change of attitude. Zapata said there has been a renewed sense of commitment on the team, and it’s made the difference.
“There’s really a new sense of commitment here,” Zapata said. “(Coaches) have tried to instill a sense of pride in these girls and a new sense of confidence in the program and its players.”
The new approach is working.
After last week’s 12-1 loss to Dayton, the Warriors didn’t let the new approach waiver Tuesday against Perrydale.
The consensus around the team is Amity is still struggling at the plate and on the base pads, but the struggles went almost unnoticed. The Warriors out hit Perrydale 9-4, and the Pirates struggled to provide run support to starting pitcher Bryce Baucum.
Baucum and Amity starter, Meagan O’Leary, both had solid outings for their teams, but the Warriors were able to strike first.
“The girls were up a bit today,” Zapata said. “They played a little bit stronger defense, hit the ball a lot harder, and it was nice to have a day off to think about it and get ready for today.”
Amity catcher Delaney Cruz was especially happy to have a day of rest.
It’s been a busy week of sports for the Warriors’ starting catcher.
The junior competed Thursday at the West Valley League Icebreaker track meet in Dayton. Cruz competed in the high and triple jump events, taking fifth in the high jump with a jump of 4feet, 4 inches and sixth in the triple jump.
Cruz said while it’s been a busy few days, her mind is primarily focused on softball.
“It’s been a pretty busy week, and I’m a little tired,” Cruz said. “But track isn’t all the time, so my focus is here on the field with softball.”
Cruz had a solid day at the plate for Amity. She was 2-for-2 with a stolen base, but it was O’Leary, a senior, that led the charge vs. Perrydale.
O’Leary was 3-for-3 with two RBIs at the plate, while also striking out three and allowing four hits in the pitching circle for Amity.
It took 15 minutes to go from the first inning to the bottom of the fourth. That’s when the Warriors went to work. O’Leary led the inning off with a single, her second hit of the afternoon. Zoe Butler pinch-ran for O’Leary and advanced to second on a Baucum wild pitch. Cruz reached first base on a Perrydale error, while Butler went to third. Freshman Madelynn Krotzer came up and hit an RBI single to right to score O’Leary. Two batters later, junior Harley Hoff, hit an RBI single that scored Cruz to give Amity a 2-0 lead.
“She was throwing juicy pitches,” said Cruz of Baucum’s pitches. “They were right where we like them, right where we wanted them.”
Amity picked up in the fifth, right where it left off in the fourth. Ariel Dumler and Anna Zapata led the inning off with singles, and O’Leary came to the plate. On the second pitch from Baucum, O’Leary hammered a double to left that scored Dumler and Zapata to give Amity a 4-0. Cruz followed O’Leary with a single, but O’Leary was unable to score from second. Baucum got the next three Amity batters to fly out and strikeout to end the inning, but it was all Amity needed.
O’Leary has averaged seven strikeouts a game, and had three against the Pirates. She said it was a long day because she’s also dealing with a cold.
“It was really exciting,” she said. “Our defense has come a long way since last year and I’m really excited. Without them, I can’t strike anyone out.”
O’Leary’s one hiccup was in the seventh inning. After a leadoff walk to Lili Stott, she got Abbe Carmona and Sara Nelson to fly out. Anna McGill came to plate for the Pirates and belted a single to center that scored Stott for Perrydale’s lone run of the game. O’Leary got the Pirates final hitter to strikeout, bringing an end to the game.
Amity has six seniors, but Dumler and O’Leary are the only two in the Warrior lineup. Zapata said the team has gotten off to a hot start because all 18 members of the team have taken a leadership role, not just the seniors.
“Everybody’s doing their part, and stepping up,” Zapata said. “They all step in and help each other. It’s all a part of that renewed commitment.”
Amity wrapped up its spring break schedule in a noon doubleheader Wednesday at Jefferson.