PLAISTOW — Timberlane coach Jim Clavette has no problem with the expression “a walk’s as good as a hit.”
In fact, he goes farther.
“My rule of thumb is that you give up a walk, they score,” said Clavette. “You can’t give up bases and expect to win.”
This proved to be the case for the defending Division 1 champion Owls yesterday as they knocked perennial power Salem from the unbeaten ranks with a 5-3 victory.
Timberlane, which improved to 10-2, only had four hits off Salem starter Rachel Towler and reliever Meghan O’Brien, but they accepted five walks and three of those walks turned into runs. The Owls also took advantage of two Salem errors.
“That’s been a problem all year for us — walks and hit batters,” said Salem coach Harold Sachs.
By contrast, Timberlane pitcher Kate Hoadley gave up just one walk, which is about average for her. She’s only walked five batters all year and she went through a five-game winning streak without giving up a single pass.
“I work at it,” said Hoadley, who struck out 12 in the complete-game effort. “We don’t want to give up any free bases. And I have a lot of confidence in my defense.”
Timberlane jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning without getting an RBI, thanks to a walk, hit batter, error and double steal and it scored a run in the fourth courtesy of a walk to Mikayla Livingston, a single by Emily Barrett and an error.
In the sixth, the Owls put on two big insurance runs as Barrett led off the inning with a walk. After a single by Olivia Harnois, pinch-hitter Kayleigh Fitzpatrick lined a two-run triple down the right-field line.
Trailing 2-0, Salem tied the game in the fourth when Meaghan Williams popped an infield blooper over the pitcher’s mound, Seanna Cloutier singled, Amanda Bickford (2 for 3) hit a sacrifice fly and Brooke Murphy (2 for 4) delivered an RBI single.