NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Sunday is usually the perfect day for taking a leisurely walk in the park.
Amherst senior third baseman Kasey McGraw decided instead to take a stroll around the bases.
McGraw hit two home runs, on back-to-back at-bats in the fifth and seventh innings, to lead the Comets to a 7-1 win over North Ridgeville in Southwestern Conference play.
For McGraw, a Youngstown State commit, it was her first multihomer high school game.
“My first at-bat I struck out and I struck out on good pitches,” McGraw said. “So I was expecting something off-speed but she threw it down the middle and I took advantage of it both times.”
McGraw’s first homer was a two-run shot that went to straightaway center and scored shortstop Lindsey Reavis, who led off the inning with a single. McGraw’s seventh-inning home run was a solo shot that followed almost the same flight path as the first.
“I’m happy to have my first multi-home run here because this was a good tough game and we needed positive energy,” McGraw said.
Amherst (7-1, 4-0 SWC) also got a two-run home run in the third inning from starting pitcher Madison O’Berg that proved to be the game-winning hit.
From there, O’Berg took over in the pitcher’s circle, retiring 16 Rangers in order before sophomore left fielder Emma Dubena reached base on an error in the bottom of the seventh.
“Madison was just fantastic as the game went on,” Amherst coach Lacey Reichert said. “She gave up a few hits early and then I don’t think she gave up another hit the rest of the game. She got stronger and better, her movement was unbelievable. She was getting hitters to chase out of the zone.”
The Rangers, who have yet to play a game outside the SWC, dropped to 3-2.
O’Berg finished with nine strikeouts while running her record to 6-0.
“I felt like I was on today, which is always a good thing, and my defense really had my back today,” O’Berg said.
“Ever since freshman year, me and Kasey have said we want to be the best seniors we can be when it’s our senior year,” O’Berg said. “We have that hunger in us this year. We want to go big because it’s our last year.”
McGraw and O’Berg are the Comets’ only seniors.
Despite allowing the three home runs, Rangers freshman pitcher Katie Barnhart held her own against a potent Amherst lineup. Barnhart pitched a complete game, striking out four while allowing five earned runs.
Freshman catcher Jenna Jaffee drove in the lone North Ridgeville run with a second-inning triple that scored Gianna Vazquez.
“At the end of the day, it’s a rough loss for us but we’re also trying to make a name for ourselves in the Southwestern Conference and our young players have really been playing well,” North Ridgeville coach Mike Mease said. “Katie got a lot of good outs for us today but Amherst is a good-hitting team and if you leave something out over the plate they’re going to attack it.”
Amherst scored at least one run in every inning except the second and fourth.
“Those two (Madison and Kasey) are playing the way elite seniors play,” Reichert said. “They picked up the offense but everyone was hitting the ball hard and, to North Ridgeville’s credit, they made some nice defensive plays. Just having those two in the lineup has a way of settling everybody else down.”