High school softball: North offense flexes its muscles in 17-3 win over NDCL

Apr. 13—Heavy rains pelted Northeast Ohio all week, but that hasn't stopped the North softball team from a successful Crop-planting season.

Powered by four home runs, the Rangers rallied from a 3-0 deficit to hammer visiting NDCL, 17-3, in a game played on Mentor's artificial turf field on April 13. The win gives North (8-2) its second win over a News-Herald Top of the Crop team this week, including a victory over Chardon earlier this week.

NDCL entered this week ranked No. 7 in the Top of the Crop, while Chardon was second.

"It's a lot of fun," Coach Matt McPeek said of his team's early season success. "The way they've come together as a unit, they're there for each other every day. It's a different feeling than any year I've had in travel or high school. The love being together and the love playing together."

And they love assaulting the opposing team's pitching.

After giving up an early three-spot to the visiting Lions (2-6) via Bella Wooke's bases-loaded triple, the Rangers proceeded to bludgeon a pair of NDCL pitchers — including ace Alex Mould — to the tune of 13 hits and 17 runs. Four of those hits left the park via home runs by Bre Preston, Ashley Sykes, Amanda Dobida and Bryn Smith.

Not long after NDCL took its 3-0 lead, Ally Hall got one run back for her team with an RBI single to plate Alyssa McPeek. Then Preston unloaded on a Mould offering and deposited the ball well over the left-field fence for a 4-3 lead.

It was just the beginning of a 17-run outburst that ended the game in the fifth inning via the run-rule.

"It's really contagious," Preston said of the team's hitting 1-through-9. "You look at the person in front of you and the person behind you and it's like, 'you get a hit and I'm gonna get a hit."

Bre Preston and Bryn Smith of @RangersFP talk about their team's dangerous offense and hot start after a victory over @NDCL_Softball today,

— News-Herald preps (@NHPreps) April 13, 2024

Every starter in North's lineup had a least one hit, one run scored or one RBI. Dobida had the biggest day with a single, double and home run, while Hall had two singles and a double, and Preston had a single, homer and three RBI.

After a scoreless second inning, Preston and Taylor Bard had RBI hits to open a 7-3 lead. A 10-run fourth inning, which included home runs from Sykes and Smith, opened a 17-3 gorge on the scoreboard.

"They were clicking on all cylinders," NDCL coach Tiger Alexander said of his team's counterpart. "We knew North could hit.That's obvious. We wish them well moving forward. McPeek has a solid program."

PHOTOS: North vs. NDCL softball, April 13, 2024

The Rangers have a lot going for them this year, including a senior-heavy lineup and health, neither of which they had last spring when catcher Alyssa McPeekand first baseman Lily Namestnik missed the season with injuries.

"The experience is there and I've got my hurt and injured kids back this year," Coach McPeek said. "If we stay healthy I like our chances."

Added Smith of the team's mindset, "I think all our hard work and energy is keeping us up in these games. I think the energy and spirit of our team is what keeps us flying."

Despite the loss, Alexander said there are positives to build upon as his Lions prepare to start Crown Conference play next week.

"I tell them to look at what we did well, and then look at things we can do better," he said, "then figure out the 'how' during our next practice session. It's been a tough start — a challenging start — but I tell them this doesn't define us. We just have got to get better every time we go out."

Coach Tiger Alexander of @NDCL_Softball credits @RangersFP for a dominating performance against his young team today.

— News-Herald preps (@NHPreps) April 13, 2024

McPeek accentuated the importance of that as well, especially with a challenging week coming up with two games against Riverside and one against Chardon, with Mayfield in between.

"I know Mayfield isn't winning games, but their top five or six hitters in the lineup can create problems," he said. "You've got to respect everybody. The message in the locker room and in the gym is 'Confidence, not cockiness.' So far we've done a pretty good job of that."

Coach Matt McPeek of @RangersFP discusses his team's 17-3 win over @NDCL_Softball today.

— News-Herald preps (@NHPreps) April 13, 2024