Taylah Tsitsikronis led the charge as the Aussie Spirit won both games of a double-header against the Beijing Eagles in the National Pro Fastpitch league.
Bouncing back from the disappointment of blowing a late lead to lose their debut game, the Spirit had to wait an extra day to get back on the field after a rainy day at Western Missouri University forced a postponement of the schedule double-header.
Now with a 2-1 win-loss record, the Spirit travel to Springfield Missouri to take on the Eagles on Wednesday morning (AEST).
Game 2: Aussie Spirit 3, Beijing Eagles 1
After a scoreless first two innings, the Spirit opened the scoring with a run in the bottom of the third on consecutive two-out doubles by Taylah Tsitsikronis and Verity Long-Droppert.
They added to that lead in the fifth inning when Tsitsikronis launched the first of her two home runs for the day, scoring Tamieka Whitefield, who had walked.
Beijing pulled a run back in the sixth inning on an RBI single by Lu Ying.
That signalled the end for starting pitcher Stephanie Trczinski, who allowed just six hits and one walk in 5.1 innings, striking out six in a terrific performance in her NPF debut.
Trczinski was relieved by Amelia Cudicio, who closed out the game without allowing a run.
Game 3: Aussie Spirit 5, Beijing Eagles 4
In the second game of the double-header, again it was Taylah Tsitsikronis who got the Aussie Spirit offence going, hitting a two-out double in the first inning and scoring on Verity Long-Droppert’s single.
But the 1-0 lead didn’t last long. The Eagles scored four runs in the second inning on a walk, an error, a single and then a double by Li Qi.
Trailing 4-1, the Spirit bounced back immediately. Jessica Torpey led off the bottom of the seond inning with a home run, then Shannon Keevers walked. Carmelle Sorensen then doubled to score Keevers, which brought Tsitsikronis to the plate. When she hit her second home of the day, the Spirit had regained the lead.
At 5-4 after two innings, this looked like being a high-scoring game. But solid pitching by Monica Perry shot out the Eagles for the rest of the way. Perry finished with seven strikeouts and one walk in seven innings of work, allowing just five hits and no earned runs.
Similarly, the Spirit hitters were mostly shut down by Beijing reliever Wang Lan, who struck out seven in 4.1 innings.
Player of the game: Taylah Tsitsikronis x 2
With identical numbers (one home run, two hits, two RBIs and two runs scored) in each game, plus an outstanding diving catch from first base, it was no surprise that Tsitsikronis was named the Vaultz Lock It Up Player of the Game.
In a post-game interview, Tsitsikronis said she took pride in her defence. “I try to. My hitting is a little bit better, but I try to do what I’ve got to do for the team,” she said.
The key to her improved hitting, she said, was not over-thinking her approach at the plate. “I’m pretty clear at the plate. I’m seeing the ball well and not thinking too much in the box.”
Tsitsikronis, who has had two previous seasons in the league with the Pennsylvania Rebellion and the Chicago Bandits, said it was a different feeling being part of the Aussie Spirit NPF team.
“We all get along, which is a good thing. Two months is a long time to be with someone you don’t like.”