Eichelberger tosses gem in Bunnies’ win

FISHER — Before Friday’s first softball pitch between Tuscola and Fisher, one could assume any mistakes made in a matchup of reigning top-two postseason seeds would prove costly.

And miscues ultimately were kept to a minimum. This nonconference game, however, included one feature that certainly looked out of place.

“I think it was kind of off that we were the away team on our own home field,” Bunnies junior Sydney Eichelberger said.

Ah, the joys of trying to squeeze in an early-season contest between bouts of inclement weather.

Eichelberger tossed seven innings of six-hit ball to lead “visiting” Fisher to a 3-1 victory over Tuscola in a game that was relocated to Fisher’s Kellar Field when the Warriors’ own field at Ervin Park couldn’t be prepared in time following heavy rain earlier this week.

Senior Becca Clanton added a solo home run and picked off an opposing runner behind the plate for the Bunnies (6-0), who played an error-free tilt around Eichelberger to overcome a matching six-hit pitching performance from Tuscola junior Ashton Smith.

“That was just a good, old-fashioned, well-pitched, defensive softball game,” Fisher coach Ken Ingold said. “I thought our approach at the plate was good. I thought we hit the ball hard. We moved some runners.”

The Warriors (7-2) committed just a single defensive error, but it loomed large. Senior second baseman Isabelle Shelmadine couldn’t come up with a fourth-inning grounder, allowing Fisher to tally a two-out run.

Tuscola coach Lenny Sementi didn’t feel his club was perfect beyond that, anyway.

While the Warriors produced some stellar defensive plays — including sophomore right fielder Abbey Jacob snagging a quick-sinking line drive while doing the splits — they also allowed a run via a wild pitch and couldn’t track down a long-hanging fly ball that went for an Eichelberger double and directly preceded the Bunnies’ second run.

“They’re a good team,” Sementi said of Fisher. “They play really good defense, and they hit the ball through the lineup.”

Eichelberger kept Tuscola’s hitters off balance all afternoon, notching six of her eight strikeouts among the Warriors’ first four batters.

While Sementi’s girls did make some solid contact, even before senior Alexis Koester’s seventh-inning home run, much of it wound up sending the ball foul down the third-base line.

“They weren’t really hitting my offspeed, so I was just trying to stick with that,” Eichelberger said, “and it was very successful for me during the game.”

The Eichelberger-Clanton battery thwarted multiple Tuscola scoring bids, the first coming with senior Ashtyn Clark on second base after a third-inning double and Fisher holding just a 1-0 advantage.

Clanton nabbed Clark trying to swipe third, though Sementi contended afterward Fisher sophomore Sidney Hood never tagged Clark for the out.

“Sidney Hood did a nice job because she had to short-hop it and make the tag,” Ingold said. “I thought that was a really nice play by her, too.”

The Warriors had at least one baserunner in each inning but the first. Yet Eichelberger continually worked her way around these challenges.

“The stuff we were out in front of was mostly fastballs,” Sementi said. “They’re amped up a little bit. But our bats are coming around. We’re missing some kids from last year who were some of our bigger bats up in the order.”

Meanwhile, the Bunnies appear to be rounding into form early despite experiencing four postponements so far. It was just an added benefit Friday that Eichelberger and friends were the road squad on their own diamond.

“It definitely helped,” she said. “I think it did help having most of our home crowd here.”


Categories (3):Prep Sports, Softball, Sports


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