ST. JOSEPH — If anything is going to pay off for the St. Joseph-Ogden softball team, it is their drive.
The Spartans crushed Westville 14-3 in five innings on Tuesday in their first regional game thanks to home runs from three different girls. Despite the overwhelming offense, SJ-O coach Randy Wolken was looking for more from his team, especially on defense.
"We didn't got after the ball like we should have, we let the ball play us at time," he said.
Wolken was not the only one expecting more.
"We can't be satisfied, we have to keep working at improving," SJ-O catcher Mickaela Fleming said.
Fleming embodies the team's quest for constant improvement. After a performance that didn't meet her standards last weekend, she kept Wolken in the gym until 8:30 Monday night working on improving her approach at the plate. The extra work paid off Tuesday as Fleming went 3 for 3, with two runs and three RBI.
Two of her RBI came on a first-inning home run she blasted into the tree overhanging left field. The home run was her ninth — and a product of her improved plate discipline.
"I came to today's game with a changed mentality, looking at it as a new season and a chance to have a perfect swing," she said. "I want to be my best for the team in the postseason."
Fleming's homer capped a four-run first that included RBI doubles from Stephanie Canfield and Elizabeth Everingham. Canfield added to SJ-O's lead in the second with a two-run shot to center. She finished with four RBI.
The Spartans found themselves in trouble in the fourth. As Westville was making way through the lineup a second time the Tigers started to catch up to Everingham, loading the bases with no outs.
"I don't know if we've had the bases loaded with no outs this season. That made me nervous," Fleming said.
A line drive and another error plated two runs for Westville, but Everingham was able to pitch out of the inning with no further damage.
"I think it was good for us to be shaken up a little bit," Wolken said.
The Spartans will try to clinch their 28th regional championship in 30 years on Saturday against Unity.