For nearly a month to start the spring season, the defending Class 4A South Region champion Eleanor Roosevelt High School softball team’s practices were limited to the school’s gymnasium; batting practice was almost entirely done with a pitching machine. As a result, the Raiders’ typically strong lineup wasn’t hitting the ball as well as it expected, coach Delton Fuller said.
Roosevelt’s offense turned the corner this week, however, and the undefeated Raiders followed up Thursday’s 11-10 win over rival Bowie with a 15-1, five-inning win over perennially strong Gwynn Park Friday in Brandywine.
“The bats didn’t wake up until [recently],” Fuller said. “Now the bats have come around.”
Roosevelt (6-0) boasts the county’s deepest pitching rotation, which allows the Raiders to see a little bit of everything during live batting practice. And unlike many of the county’s teams, which have only one true starting pitcher to rely on, having live batting practice doesn’t wear out the Raiders pitchers, Fuller said.
Each of Roosevelt’s three pitchers — returning starter Joya Grillo, freshman Renee Rogers and Nora Snider, who was injured last spring — have won two games.
Rogers threw Friday’s game — Grillo picked up the win against Bowie — and struck out four in a four-hitter with no walks. The Raiders tallied eight hits.
“I was talking to [my assistant coach before the season] and I was like, ‘I hope we’re not going to have to just rely on Joya and she won’t have a break,’” Fuller said. “But we have a nice rotation. [Each game] I [literally] have to find out who is in the rotation. And each has her own style.”
Grillo is the Raiders’ most powerful pitcher, Fuller said. Rogers is right behind the junior hurler and Snider, a six-footer who doubles as a clutch first baseman, throws a wicked changeup, Fuller added.
Friday’s game was only the second time in his nearly 30-year tenure that Gwynn Park (5-3) has been run-ruled, Yellow Jackets coach Wes Courtney said. The county finally listened to his plea for a tougher scheduled and moved some of the small schools division’s perennial powers into a division with the county’s 4A powers like Bowie and Roosevelt, but this season is Courtney’s least experienced, he said.
“I’m very happy with how this team is doing, I thought maybe we’d only win two games but we have five wins and our season goal is 10,” Courtney said.
In addition to Roosevelt’s eight hits, 11 Raiders were walked Friday and Gwynn Park committed eight fielding errors.
Roosevelt scored at least one run in every inning Friday. The Raiders opened the scoring with three runs in the first inning off hits from Grillo, who plays second base when she isn’t pitching, stalwart junior shortstop Alannah Baiyina, sophomore left fielder Claire Mudd, catcher Leila Dawson and Rogers. Roosevelt added five more runs in the second inning off hits from Grillo, Baiyina and Leah Haynes and a run in each the third and fourth without a single hit. A five-run fifth inning put the game out of reach.
Gwynn Park scored its lone run in the bottom of the second inning off hits from Kirsten Beverly and Shorty Snellings and a sacrifice bunt from Jenae Wade.
“We’re finally hitting and that infield we had out there [Friday], that’s a pretty strong defense,” Fuller said. “I told the girls I plan on being at Bachman [Sports Complex in the state semis]. People think they see a team from PG and it’s going to be an easy win. We want to break that spell.”
Eleanor Roosevelt 15, Gwynn Park 1 (5 innings)
Gwynn Park (5-3) 0 1 0 0 0 — 1
Roosevelt (6-0) 3 5 1 1 5 — 15
W — Renee Rogers (2-0)
L — Brittan Abaugh (5-3)