WLC gets a win

WILTON – There was never any doubt the Wilton-Lyndeborough High School softball team was going to handle Newmarket on Monday, but the end result left coach Denny Claire unsatisfied.

The Warriors remained undefeated for the season (9-0) with a 5-0 win over Newmarket behind a strong pitching performance from starter Sara Holka, but collected just four hits as a team, relying on poor defense and a lack of command from Newmarket starter Courtney Fowler – the same pitcher WLC scored 12 runs against on April 28 – to generate offense.

Fowler struck out 10 batters, most of which, to the frustration of Claire, were on called third strikes. Claire said after the game that the heat on Monday and the rust from not having taken the field since Friday played into the Warriors’ struggles against a two-win team.

“We weren’t as sharp as we normally are,” Claire said. “We normally hit better than that, so I was disappointed about that. It wasn’t one of our better games, but we didn’t give up any runs, so I can’t complain about that.

“I can’t take called third strikes, it drives me absolutely crazy,” he later added. “I don’t care if they strike out as long as they’re swinging.”

Claire also added that Fowler, who walked four batters, was the hardest-throwing pitcher his team has seen in over a week, which he said impacted WLC’s timing in the batter’s box, and her inability to consistently find the strike zone played into their plate discipline.

When asked if Monday’s performance was not a full representation of what he expects from his team come playoffs, Claire said, “It hadn’t better have been. We usually hit the ball better than that. It’s just one of those days.”

Holka, on the other hand, did more than enough to lead the Warriors on Monday. The right-hander allowed just two hits and five walks with six strikeouts in a complete-game shutout.

Holka showed signs of fatigue toward the end, allowing four runners to get into scoring position in the game’s final three innings, but worked her way out of trouble by simply throwing strikes.

Holka also opened the scoring for WLC in the bottom of the first inning on a sacrifice to shortstop to score leadoff hitter Tesa Simpson. Simpson reached first on a walk, stole second and reached third on a passed ball before Holka’s sacrifice drove her home.

The Warriors did the bulk of their damage in the bottom of the third, with three runs on three hits and a walk. Ally Schwab drove in Holka, who walked, with a one-out single to center field to make it 2-0 WLC.

Schwab reached third on a passed ball and a wild pitch, and crossed home on a bunt single by Sami Bosquet, who also scored on an RBI single by Sophie LeVert to extend the Warriors’ lead to 4-0.

Simpson added some insurance in the bottom of the fourth with a single to center that quickly turned into a run after the ball went between the legs of Newmarket center fielder Brenda Bounphakjom. A subsequent throwing error by Bounphakjom gave Simpson plenty of time to round the bases and put WLC up 5-0.

While Claire wasn’t pleased with the overall effort, he expects his team to be at its best in its final seven games before the postseason.

“Come tournament time, hopefully we’re in a groove,” Claire said. “We’ll see what happens.”