WAKEFIELD – Relief at last.
There has been some frustration this season for the South Kingston softball team as the Rebels had come so close at times but could not break into the win column through their first six games this season.
A sigh of relief went up on Tuesday night, however, as the drought came to an end when South Kingstown routed Johnston, 12-2, in six innings.
“We needed it,” said South coach Joel Tuoni. “We’ve been doing some things in spurts and haven’t strung anything together so after six losses we needed to get a win.”
The game started like many others this season as the Rebels found themselves in an early, 1-0 hole after giving up a run in the top of the second inning.
South them came up short in the bottom of the frame after putting runners in scoring position with no outs.
“That’s been the key to the year,” Tuoni said. “We’ve been in some tight situations where [our opponent will] get the two-out hit to go up 2-0 and we don’t and we’re chasing all game.
“We’ve been close, we just haven’t tied it together.”
Tuesday night, the Rebels finally put everything together.
Still trailing 1-0 entering the bottom of the third, senior Annie McLoughlin came to the plate with two runners aboard, ripped a shot to left centerfield fence and came all the way around for an inside the park home run to give South a 3-1 lead.
Johnston answered back and put up a quartet of singles in the top of the next frame to plate a run and load the bases with just one out.
With their lead on the verge of disappearing as quickly as it came, SK’s Taylor Gordon and the Rebel defense bared down and got out of the inning thanks to a Gordon strikeout and harmless pop out.
Where South has run into trouble this season has been in its inability to distance itself when it gets a lead but thankfully for the Rebels that trend ended Tuesday.
SK capitalized on some sloppy Johnston defense, scored two more runs in the bottom of the fourth and then piled on another four in the the fifth thanks in part to a two-out single by Freshman Rachel Curran that drove in a pair.
“We got up 5-0 on Ponaganset and the girls were so happy to be up 5-0 they wanted the game to end,” commented Tuoni. “I said, ‘No, you have to play it to the end.’
“They made a few hits and we made a ton of errors and they beat us 11-5 in a game we never should have lost, so I told them, ‘Instead of being happy we got up five, let’s come out and put five more up and you end the game.’”
The coach’s words resonated with his players.
In the sixth it was McLoughlin again coming through, this time with a bases clearing triple to center that put another three runs on the board and put the game away.
“She’s clutch,” said South’s coach. “She’s a leader out here. We need her and expect her to step up in big situations.”
Though they are a young, raw team that has a very small margin for error, many on the Rebels squad have always felt this team is better than their record reflects.
Tuesday night’s win could be just what South needed to give them the confidence to start putting more wins on the board.
“I think this win really helps,” said McLoughlin. “We were really struggling at the beginning of the season, people were getting down, wondering what was going to happen with the season but I think this game really turned it around.”
With the relief of getting their first win out of the way setting in, the Rebels will have a chance to keep the good times rolling and put together their first winning streak of the season before week’s end.
South traveled north to face 4-5 Cranston East Thursday afternoon (results unavailable at time of press) and wrap up the week at home against Scituate Saturday at 6 p.m