Wildcats sweep Cadillac, but want to improve defense

News Photo by James Andersen Alpena’s Meghan Roznowski, right, slides into third base during a softball game against Cadillac at Alpena High School on Tuesday.

Alpena High softball coach Paul Marwede was pleased to see his team walk away with two wins on Tuesday.

But after topping Cadillac 11-0 (five innings) and 18-11 during a Big North Conference doubleheader, Marwede was wishing things had gone a little smoother.

The Wildcats had plenty of offense against the Vikings, but had some defensive struggles Marwede said his team will need to clean up as it goes forward.

“Two wins (but) a lot of things to work on. Two wins, but things need to improve defensively,” Marwede said. “I’m proud of the bats; not the same for the defensive effort.”

Alpena (10-4, 4-0 BNC) came out on top in a slugfest in the nightcap, rallying several times to overtake the Vikings. The last rally came in the bottom of the fifth inning as the Wildcats’ offense exploded for 11 runs to turn a 10-7 deficit into an 18-10 lead.

Every Alpena starter scored at least once during the rally and five different players had RBI hits. Abbie Funk cleared the bases early with a double after Alpena’s first three batters reached safety on a single and two hit-by-pitches. Funk came up big again later in the inning, smacking a two-run double.

Emma Fraser had an RBI double in the fifth and Riley Alexander and Allie DeRocher each had an RBI single.

“It was a slugfest, but that’s not what varsity ball should be about,” Marwede said. “We want to be able to put runs on people, but on the other side of the coin to be a strong team you have to be a strong defensive team.”

After getting blanked in the opener, the Vikings found some success against Alpena’s defense, scoring more than a few runs with two outs.

Cadillac held a 4-1 lead after two and a half innings, a 7-5 lead after three and a half innings and a 10-7 lead after four and a half innings.

But the Wildcats always found a way to answer. The scored four runs to make it 5-4 after three innings, two runs to make it 7-7 after four and 11 in the fifth to take the lead for good.

Alpena’s third-inning rally came after a strange play. The Vikings got two quick outs and before Alpena got two runners on. A routine infield fly was caught on the tip of the glove, but it was dropped. Amidst the confusion, both Alpena runners came around to score and Alexander and Sydney Chojnacki followed with back-to-back RBI doubles.

Alpena was finally able to stifle Cadillac in the final two innings, limiting the Vikings to a run on two hits and leaving a pair of baserunners stranded.

Alana Hoffert had three hits and two RBI for Cadillac and Shelby Townsend had a pair of two-run hits.

Abbie Funk had four hits and five RBI for Alpena; Fraser had a pair of doubles and an RBI; Alexander had two hits and three RBI and Chojnacki had three hits and an RBI.

The Wildcats performed well under pressure in the opener, scoring all of their runs with two outs. Alpena broke things open with an eight-run second inning, highlighted by a three-run home run from Meghan Roznowski and a two-run double from Funk.

“The hitting came through throughout the whole day and we scored a lot of runs with two outs. They scored a lot of runs with two outs in Game 2 and the game was a lot closer than we thought it would be.”

Cadillac was limited to just one hit and Fraser earned the win.

Weather permitting, the Wildcats are scheduled to host Sault Ste. Marie on Wednesday at 4 p.m.