AUDUBON – Sam McErlane and Deanna Pineiro represent the power portion of the Audubon High School softball lineup.
Both homered and McErlane drove in two runs with a double on Tuesday to help the Green Wave roll to a 10-0 victory over Schalick in a South Jersey Group 1 quarterfinal game.
But McErlane, who also serves as Audubon’s No. 1 pitcher, says neither of the hard-hitters go to the plate looking to hit the long ball.
“We both have the same approach,” she said. “We just look for our pitch to hit and think singles. Whatever the outcome is, usually it’s good.”
McErlane got the rout started by leading off a six-run second inning with a solo homer. Pineiro capped the uprising with a three-run shot in the same inning.
“I feel like we’re going up there, waiting for our pitch, and just driving it,” Pineiro said. “We’re the second and fourth batter, so we have an important job. I feel like we’re doing it very well.”
Coach Erin Small has come to rely on both players to deliver a spark to the offense.
“Deanna been able to do a great job of scoring runs with runners on base,” Small said. “She comes up with big hits. Her and Sam, all year long, have been able to push runs across when we need them.”
With a 19-3 record for the season, the Green Wave now turns its attention to a seminal game against Woodbury, a Colonial Conference rival.
So far the tournament has been one big party for Audubon, which won its second consecutive game via the 10-0 rule – the first coming over Penns Grove.
Still, Small wants to guard against a sense of overconfidence in the coming games.
“We’re just focusing on each game,” she said. “Today we wanted to focus on putting some runs on the board early, which we did. Once we feel like we can get those bats going, it’s contagious, and today we hit the ball well.”
In reality, however, the Green Wave hasn’t needed that many runs to win behind McErlane, who has been a shutdown pitcher.
“Sam keeps the ball low, and moves it inside and outside,” said Pineiro. “I feel like that’s good because it throws batters off and she’s hard to catch up to. She’s a big part of the team and I feel like her momentum gets everyone going.”
On Tuesday, in raising her record to 16-2 for the season, McErlane allowed only two hits and she struck out five with no walks in six innings.
She retired the last seven batters she faced and she struck out the side in the fifth inning.
Though it didn’t matter much in the outcome of the game, left fielder Jax Panico helped McErlane out by making a highlight reel running catch on a line drive in the sixth inning.
“Sam threw the ball very well,” said Small. “They have three girls in their lineup who are very powerful hitters and we were able to keep all three of them off the bases.”
The Green Wave broke a scoreless tie when McErlane led off the second inning with a home run to left field. Then the hits just kept on coming.
Zoe Snedden and Ashley Pentz both singled and moved up on Mikayla Alkins’ sacrifice bunt. Panico brought in one run with a ground ball before Gabby Bobo hit an RBI single.
Pineiro followed with a home run to left-center that made it 6-0 and all but put the game out of reach early.
In the fourth inning, McKenzie Yurcaba singled home a run and Zoe contributed a sacrifice fly.
The Green Wave finished off the game in the sixth when Bobo singled, Pineiro doubled and both scored on McErlane’s double.