ST. PETERSBURG — Call it methodical magic. What Canterbury does to pitchers is done methodically and produces magic results. If the Crusaders stay patient while not turning passive, they simply drain pitchers. They will wait and wait and wait then pounce.
It took longer for Canterbury to pounce against St. Petersburg on Thursday, and the Crusaders did it in a much more subtle manner. But the methodical magic surfaced and the patient style helped Canterbury rally for a 5-1 victory.
Facing the deep, disciplined Crusaders can be a long, aggravating ordeal for pitchers. Canterbury hitters are adept at making pitchers toss strike after strike and at turning talented pitchers into tired pitchers. Weary pitchers are much more susceptible to wilting.
Green Devils pitcher Breanna Setree-Malone has a superb repertoire with a fastball and a nasty changeup. She struck out seven of the first nine batters, allowed one hit through the first five innings and did not seem fazed about challenging a team that scored a combined 42 runs in its past three games.
Setree-Malone also was productive at the plate, hitting a single, moving to second on a sacrifice bunt and scoring off an error in the second inning to give St. Petersburg a 1-0 lead.
But Setree-Malone’s apparent taming of the Crusaders wouldn’t continue.
“We were starting to get the timing down and making contact each time we got through the order,” Canterbury coach Jody Moore said. “And the biggest thing is we stayed disciplined.”
The Crusaders (5-2) did what they always do, staying patient and forcing Setree-Malone to come to them. When Setree-Malone did not toss strikes, Canterbury did not help her with sloppy swings and that, of course, hurt the Green Devils (4-3) down the stretch.
The payoff came in the bottom of the sixth when the Crusaders drew two walks. Madison Posey followed with a run-scoring single that tied the score. The Crusaders then broke the game open on a two-run single by Lindsay Eaton and a two-run double by Lindsay Graves.
Canterbury pitcher Emily Winesett did the rest, getting three strikeouts in the seventh.
“I knew we could come back because we were starting to get our timing down on offense,” Winesett said.