BY CHRIS RAMBO
SALINEVILLE-Before the season, Western Reserve senior April Lude was moved from her traditional cleanup spot in the batting order up to the leadoff position.
The hope of Blue Devils coach Laura Amero was that Lude's power would jumpstart the rest of the lineup. Lude proved once again on Tuesday that the switch was a good one, smashing two home runs (her seventh and eighth of the year) and driving in four as Western Reserve defeated Southern, 14-0, in five innings.
The Devils remain unbeaten in the Inter-Tri County League lower tier at 9-0.
"Overall it was a nice team effort to stay focused and take care of business tonight," Amero said. "I was pleased that we were able to jump on them early."
WR-Maddie Kreitzburg, wp, (5IP, 1H, 0R, 10K, 3BB) and Marley Oles
S-Jaden Hickman, lp, (3IP, 10H, 1K, 3BB), Casey Howdershelt (2IP, 2H, 1R 0K, 0BB) and Lisa Higgins.
The Devils wasted little time getting on the board. Lude led off the game and took a 3-1 pitch from Southern right-hander Jaden Hickman over the left field fence for a home run.
"I've enjoyed batting leadoff this year more than hitting cleanup," Lude said. "It's nice to be able to set the other hitters up and get the team off to a good start."
The Indians averted further damage in the first, but Western Reserve broke the game open in the second inning, sending 13 batters to the plate and scoring seven times to take an 8-0 lead.
"After the first inning, our hitters adjusted their swings a little bit," Amero said. "We tried to stay back a little more on the off-speed pitches and focus on driving the ball. We had some nice line drive hits the rest of the game and that should help us going forward."
In the third, after Xya Taylor led off with a single, Lude stepped up and cranked Hickman's first pitch over the fence in left-center for her second home run of the game to make it 10-0.
"I love the power that April (Lude) provides us out of the leadoff spot," Amero said. "Before the season we needed to try something to give the offense a jump start and she has been one of our main catalysts all year."
Southern falls to 3-11 overall and 2-8 in the ITCL lower tier. The Indians were playing Tuesday without their main starting pitcher, Hailey Huff, who was attending a school function.
"It was tough for us tonight," Southern coach Kristen Cochran said. "We were using two pitchers who have barely pitched for us this year. Overall, we gave a nice effort though. I thought our fielding showed some improvement tonight from earlier in the season."