Helmink’s three-run home run gave the Rangers a 3-0 lead that starter Rachel Jalowiec made sure stood up.
The homer was Helmink’s second in two days and hit halfway up the left-field foul pole.
“It just felt really good when I hit it,” said Helmink, who connected on an inside pitch from Molly O’Malley on a 2-1 count.
Jalowiec aided her own cause with a single to center for the fourth run of the inning.
The fast start was a welcome sight for North Ridgeville coach Norm Fridnt, whose team improved to 1-1.
“We hit the ball real well yesterday,” Frindt said of the Rangers’ 8-4 loss to North Royalton. “We had 10 hits and we hit the ball hard a lot of times and we had people on base, but just didn’t get them in.”
Elyria Catholic (1-2) got on the board in the fourth inning. Lexi Kaczay coaxed a one-out walk and Bre Carosella followed with a single to right-center to put runners on first and second. After the runners moved up a base on a wild pitch, Jasmin Filiaggi drove in a run with a hit to deep short.
The Panthers added another run in the fifth when Courtney Yun walked, advanced on a passed ball and scored on April Boehnen’s single to right-center.
The Rangers came right back and scored a pair of runs in their half of the inning. After loading the bases on an error, a bunt single and a walk, Jalowiec grounded out to short to score Nikki Gannon. Katelyn Mohler then hit a bloop over the pitcher’s head for an infield single that scored Kaleigh Asp.
“We were stuck in a rut after the first inning,” Frindt said. “We at least manufactured a way to score some runs (in the fifth), which is what we’ve been preaching right along.”
Panthers coach Brian Daw wasn’t expecting his offense to get shut down the way it was.
“We’ve been such an offensive team the last two games it’s just surprising,” he said. “We were hitting the ball but we just couldn’t get it going. We put a couple of things together, but we just couldn’t string them together. … Today it just didn’t happen.
“Giving up that one big home run took a lot of wind out of the sails.”