GIRARD - As winning streaks go, three straight normally isn't something to shout about.
Girard Indians softball coach Renny Paolone might disagree with that thinking after a 7-3 win over the Warren G. Harding Raiders on Tuesday. It's been an up-and-down season for the Indians, now 12-7 on the year, which made the victory and the win streak seem more important.
"We've had a rough season," winning pitcher Neco Maderitz said. "We just haven't been clicking together and playing a full seven innings as a team. We're coming around and getting ready to play next week in the playoffs."
Maderitz played a big role in the win, allowing two earned runs in seven innings. She struck out 12 but was a bit off with her control in walking three.
Paolone believes strongly in Maderitz's ability to take the Indians far in the Division III tournaments.
"Neco's the best I've ever had," Paolone said. "She works all year round. Her work ethic is phenomenal. The girl is just wonderful to coach. I can't say enough superlatives for her."
The Raiders (16-4) didn't help their cause by committing three errors, one of which led to four unearned runs in the second inning.
"The problem was we gave them four unearned runs," Raiders coach Bruce Whetzel said. "We had two outs and routine plays to make, and we booted the ball.
"This is the kind of thing we have to overcome in order to do what we need to do in the tournament. We're there, but to be an elite team we have one more hurdle to climb."
Callie Jay led off the bottom of the fourth with a walk off reliever Anastashia Garrison. After Jay moved to second on a wild pitch, Mackenzie Olesky singled her to third. Kay was then retired at home on a ground ball by Gabby Cario.
Alli Rose grounded out to third baseman Rachel Stano, who held Olesky at third.
Annie Parillo reached on a fielding error, scoring Olesky and opening the door for a big inning. Cario and Parillo scored on a triple by Kylie Kulon, who then scored on a wild pitch.
The four-run cushion was plenty of support for Maderitz. She allowed two runs in the third on a single by Alyssa Donald and a fielder's choice by Stano. The Raiders scored an unearned run in the sixth.
"I thought I started out pretty strong," Maderitz said. "By the end of the game maybe I got a little weaker, but I thought I finished the game well."
The Indians added single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Kulon singled in Cario in the fourth. Consecutive singles by Jay, Olesky and Cario produced a run in the fifth, and Kulon scored on a single by Karlee Byrne in the sixth.
Kulon, who will play at Gannon College, had three hits and drove in three runs. She nudged her batting average to close to .500.
"She's another one," Paolone said. "She plays year round. Great work ethic. Throw me more pitches. Take me to the batting cages."
The Raiders must shake off the loss and get ready for the tournament.
"I told them that they have to quit wowing over the other team," Whetzel said. "Wow over ourselves. Part of this game is mental, and that's the part we have to get."