Knights’ Helmick Falls Triple Short Of Cycle
BRIDGEWATER — It was far too windy for home runs Wednesday at Turner Ashby High School’s softball field.
And yet, Natalie Helmick, a wiry 5-foot-9 freshman, still hit one out.
The TA first baseman/pitcher defied the in-blowing wind and crushed a solo shot to left-center field and fell a triple shy of the cycle as the Knights tied East Rockingham 2-2 in a game that was called after nine innings because of darkness.
“She’s a power hitter,” TA senior Blaire Miller said of Helmick.
Miller, a Division I Presbyterian (S.C.) signee, would know. The Knights have mini home run derbies during practice and Helmick, one of a number of talented freshmen and sophomores on TA’s roster this season, has emerged as Miller’s primary rival.
Helmick said her practice-best for home runs is three.
“I have a lot of competition,” Miller said.
Helmick, part of an undefeated JV team last year, finished 3-for-4 with a single, a double and the home run, which came in the second inning and tied the game at 1-1. It was her first home run this season.
“I was crowding the plate,” said Helmick, who played for the Shamrocks, an elite travel softball team based in Northern Virginia, in the offseason. “From earlier experience, [I know] she goes outside, so I knew to crowd the plate, and for me, it wasn’t an outside pitch … it was right down the middle.”
The Knights (1-0-1) added another run to go ahead 2-1 in that inning on a single by Sydney Sheffer.
East Rock, which lost 5-2 to TA last Friday, tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the fifth on a single from Emily Simmons. The Eagles (0-2-1) had an opportunity to take the lead, but Helmick — also a power pitcher — came in with the bases loaded and got a groundout to end the inning.
The right-hander pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, giving up two hits and striking out one. She also got out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning by inducing a 1-2-3 double play and then getting a groundout to end the inning.
“The speed she throws — she’s so consistent in pitching,” TA coach Laura Bowman said. “It’s something she works on year-round, so you give her a spot, and it’s pinpoint location. Most of the time, you know exactly where it’s going. As far as hitting, obviously, today, she showed that.”
Jessica Lam led East Rockingham, going 1-for-4 with a triple and a walk. She also made several nice plays at shortstop, including a diving stop in the hole to throw out Olivia Cook in the seventh inning.
Last year, Turner Ashby and ERHS also played to a tie because of darkness (10-10 on March 28, 2012).
East Rockingham 100 010 000 – 2 6 0
Turner Ashby 020 000 000 – 2 10 4
Breeden and A. Helmick; Sheets, N. Helmick (5) and Bosley. HR – TA: N. Helmick.