It's finally here... the start of Conference play in the CSAA-Gold for the Big Rapids Cardinal Baseball and Softball teams!
Cardinal baseball got off to a slow start dropping their first 2 games to the Petoskey Northmen 9-3 & 2-0. They then took a single game against Ludington 1-0 buoyed by a stellar starting pitching performance from Sophomore Keaton Ballard.
Ballard went 6 2/3, struck out 12, walked 1, but did not get the win. LJ Graves threw 1 pitch to the Orioles Irelan who drove the ball deep to center field. Senior Jace Gray ran it down to send the game to the bottom of the 7th.
The Cards then led off the 7th with back to back singles by Martinson and Decker before none other than Jace Grey returned to close the game out with a walk-off RBI single to center.
After Ludington the Cards continued to struggle to consistently play a full 7 innings. They dropped game 1 at Morley Stanwood 15-5 making 7 errors before demolishing the Mohawks in game 2 10-0. Kinnally struck out 16 in 5 innings (had a 4k inning in the 3rd) allowing only 2 hits and a walk. He topped off his day with solo home run.
Coming into Conference Coach Doherty and Coach Scarpelli are looking for 7 innings of 'grind'. Throwing strikes, making routine plays, and putting the ball in play. They did so at North Pointe Christian on the 13th but dropped the game 5-4.
"It was hard fought. We made some mistakes but minimized them. We just didn't get timely hitting. The boys fought hard though, and North Pointe is a good team."
Cardinal softball has had a little easier time thus far albeit in limited play. While baseball is 4-4, Cardinal softball is a modest 3-1. Opening against Ludington the Cards managed 2 victories; 8-7 & 15-6. They then turned around and split with the Morley Stanwood Mohawks losing game 1 8-3 before taking the nightcap 10-7.
Cardinal softball is averaging 9 runs per game but giving up 7 in a limited sample size. The Cardinals are still young and, like baseball, have only been able to get outside as a team a handful of times if that.
Coming into today's game Head Coach Dawn Thompson is excited to be outside in true softball weather. "It will be important for our pitchers to get ahead of hitters to set the tone. Communication will be key for success today."
Catch both Cardinal baseball and softball varsity teams at Big Rapids High School starting at 4pm as they host the Tri County Vikings.
Follow @scarpsbaseball on Twitter for live game updates for baseball and @BigRapidsDN for both baseball and softball recaps.