After her coach predicted her to have a huge year, Lindsey Gaines began to back up his words with some powerful clout in the opener.
The senior first baseman drove in six runs, including a walk-off, three-run homer in the fifth inning, powering the Cumberland Regional High School softball team to a 13-2 home rout over Deptford on a cold, windy Wednesday afternoon.
Colts coach Alan Homan had an exciting tone in his voice when rattling off the names on his roster in the preseason. When he got to Gaines, he took a few extra minutes to talk about the production he expected from her bat, saying she was “primed” for a big season.
“Last year, she went through some swing changes and you could just tell that she never got real comfortable or confident with them,” he said after Wednesday’s game. “This spring, she’s been hitting everything everywhere and hard.”
Gaines didn’t have a bad season in 2012, batting .305 with 17 RBIs. However, she was anxious to get her senior year started.
“I’ve been counting the days down to this (opener),” Gaines said. “I just went back to the basics with my swing last year and it took me a while to get used to it. I worked to get my swing where it needed to be and now I’m feeling very comfortable with it.”
Her swing has had the opposite effect on opposing pitchers, making them very uncomfortable in the circle.
Gaines doubled home a pair of runs in the first inning, knocked in another on a groundout in the fourth and ended the game with a homer to left in the fifth, slicing a ball through the wind.
“That was a lot of fun,” Gaines said about her first round-tripper on her home field. “I was robbed of one in our first playoff game last year, so this definitely feels good.”
Despite an unusually cold March and April, Cumberland’s bats have been anything but chilly. The Colts averaged nine runs in their scrimmages and pounded out 14 hits, including seven for extra-bases, against Deptford (0-2).
“We can hit,” said sophomore catcher Jackie Martin, who had a double and two RBIs. “It’s something we work on and take a lot of pride in. We just concentrate on driving the ball up the middle.”
Sophomore Michaela Hitchner went 3-for-3, senior Kodi Pollock had two hits and three RBIs and senior Kate McCormick scored four times for the Colts, who ended the game in the fifth with a six-run frame.
Freshman Abigail DiJoseph was the surprise starting pitcher for the Colts. The right-hander threw 42/3 innings, allowing a pair of runs on five hits en route to the win.
Cumberland ace Shayla Loud had a medical issue in the preseason and has been eased back into action. She relieved DiJoseph in the fifth and retired the only batter she faced.
“I thought (DiJoseph) pitched terrific,” Homan said. “I wanted to get her through five innings and let Shayla finish it up. We are still working on building Shayla’s endurance back up.”
DiJoseph got plenty of defensive support in her debut.
The Colts pulled off a nifty 4-3-2 double play in the second inning as second baseman Emily Pettit fielded a grounder, looked the runner back to third base, threw to first for one out before Gaines fired home to Martin to cut down the runner at the plate. Pettit also had a beautiful flip to Pollock to erase a runner at second base in the fifth.