EVESHAM-- Emma Gilmore and Anna Messina set the tone at the top of the Cherokee order.
But the leadoff pair are just the start of the threats posed by the top-ranked Chiefs.
Cherokee moved to 9-1 with an 8-2 win over Eastern in Olympic American play on Monday, two days after a major victory over perennial power Egg Harbor Township.
Gilmore and Messina started the game with a pair of singles, and Gilmore scored the first run of the contest on a throw down to first while she was on third.
“It’s super important. If I get on, she moves me and vice versa. It’s really important to get it started,” Gilmore said.
What makes Cherokee such a tough team to beat is it pays attention to all the little details and picks apart its opponent’s flaws.
“You have to pick up on their little mistakes and capitalize on them,” Messina said.
Cherokee once again got its bats in motion with a four-run fourth separating it for good from the Vikings, but the real standout plays Monday came on defense.
Messina concluded the top of the fourth by throwing out a runner at the plate following a bloop single from Anna Accardo that plated one run.
In the next inning, center fielder Jordyn Deveney turned a routine flyout into a double play as she caught a runner napping on her way back to first.
“We really try to be the best defensive team,” Messina said. ‘We work on that all the time, throwing from the outfield and cuts and everything like that. It’s important to make those throws.”
The Chiefs are playing with a world of confidence, and that was before their big win Saturday over Egg Harbor Township.
“It gave us even more confidence than we already had and it just made sure that we know what we can do,” Gilmore said. “It gives us that extra push and it makes us seem tougher to other teams.”
While Gilmore and Messina deserve a ton of credit for thriving in their roles, the entire Chiefs lineup poses problems to opposing pitchers.
In Monday’s victory, six different players scored a run and recorded a hit, with two key ones coming from the bottom third of the order.
Izzy Witham brought in Deveney on a RBI single in the fourth and Meg Gray started the fifth with a double to provide more insurance for pitcher Karly Messina.
“Everyone assumes the bottom of the lineup is just people thrown in there, but our lineup is solid all the way through,” Gilmore said.
“If me and Emma are having a bad day at the top of the lineup, they always pick us up,” Messina said.
By succeeding in all facets of the game, Cherokee is poised for more success and potentially a chance at the South Jersey Group 4 crown currently held by EHT.