LITHIA — After watching her team’s swoon hit its nadir with Tuesday’s five-inning embarrassment at Durant, Bloomingdale coach Melissa Gentile chose to make a mute point with the Bulls.
At Wednesday’s practice, fungo and fundamentals were in. Phonics were out.
“(Wednesday) was a completely silent practice,” Gentile said. “Our pregame at home (Thursday) was a completely silent pregame. It’s easy for kids this age to talk about things they need to do. But we need to put things into action.”
The silent treatment worked. On a chilly Lithia night, the Bulls’ gag order — and Newsome’s five-game win streak — ended, courtesy of petite freshman Taylor Engman.
The 5-foot-3, 98-pound leftfielder, who turned 15 this month, collected four of her team’s five RBIs in a 5-1 triumph against the Wolves in a pivotal Class 8A, District 7 game.
The Bulls (12-6, 5-3), losers of four of their previous five coming in, now occupy sole possession of second place in the parity-laden district.
“It was the talking that was getting us all off-topic and not focused,” said Engman, who finished 2-for-4 with a two-out, two-run double in the third. “So once we came out here, we knew it was time to get things done.”
Two nights after committing three errors in the 10-0 loss at Durant, the Bulls committed only one and got a clutch four-hitter from sophomore ace Lace Smith.
With one out, runners on second and third and the Bulls nursing a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth, Smith forced Amanda Bober to pop up to second, then forced Mariah Edwards to ground out to second to end the inning.
Engman followed with a two-out single up the middle in the top of the seventh to score Lizzie Jackson, and scored herself on Jenna Beswick’s double to rightfield.
“(Engman) is not a kid that I think pops up on a lot of teams’ scouting reports … but Taylor just gets the job done,” Gentile said. “She has productive at-bats. Even when she’s getting out, she’s putting the ball in play, she’s moving runners.”
Newsome (9-4, 4-4) scored its lone run in the third when Claire Feldman singled, reached third on a two-base error and came home on Brooke Leistl’s hit. Freshman Hannah Pridemore went 2-for-3 for her sixth consecutive multi-hit game.
On this night, fittingly enough, it was a very quiet extension to her hit streak.
“That’s what our focus this week in practice has been, just getting back to the simple things,” Gentile said. “I was really happy tonight to see them really taking ownership of that and getting excited about that sort of quiet focus.”