By ROB HAMILTON
Cardington scored early and often in taking a 10-3 victory over Northmor in softball.
Even better for head coach Tod Brininger, that win moved his team to 6-0 in Blue Division play, meaning that they’ve gone through other six teams once without suffering any setbacks, putting them in great position to repeat as division champs.
“Today is our first time through everyone and we’re 6-0,” said the coach. “We told them we control our own destiny.”
After a scoreless first inning, the Pirates exploded for four runs in the second. Kirsten Dever was hit by a pitch, Aubrey Clark drew a walk and pitcher Brooke Snyder cracked a single to load the bases. From there, Dakota Crum hit a two-run singles to put her team on the board. Cass Starkey followed with a run-scoring single and Khyla Jones added a fourth score on a sacrifice fly.
The Pirates kept things going in the next inning. After Clark got on base via walk again, Snyder drove her in with a triple and then came in herself as Crum smacked a run-scoring single.
Then, in the fourth frame, after Starkey and Summer Morgan hit singles, Jones made the score 8-0 with a two-run double. “We just didn’t get our bats out today,” said Northmor coach Jamie Schaad. “We got a little behind on defense and weren’t producing runs.”
And when the Knights did get on the board, they unfortunately left runs on the bases. While they scored two in the top of the fifth inning, it could have been much more.
Cheyenne Shelton opened the inning with a walk and Shelbie Wiseman followed with a single. With one out, Kelsey Reeder laid down a bunt single to load the bases. Lydia Farley then drove in a run with a single to put the Knights on the board and a second score crossed the plate when Shianne Johnson drew a bases loaded walk. Snyder would get the Pirates out of the inning thanks to some help from her defense, though, as she got the next batter to ground into a double play, keeping the score at 8-2.
“Defensively, our middle infielder with Sam Brininger and Alyson Adams, I think is the best in the league,” said Brininger. “And we have the best centerfielder in Khyla Jones. Brooke can dominate and knows her defense is behind her.”
Cardington got those runs back over their half of the fifth inning and the sixth. Dever opened the fifth by drawing a walk and moved to third on a bunt single by Crum. She would then score on a Starkey hit to make the score 9-2.
They got their 10th run in the sixth inning when Jones got a single, moved to second on a sacrifice and scored on a Dever hit.
Northmor had a chance to score earlier in the sixth when Shelton and Wiseman got on base with two outs, but weren’t able to get those runners across.
They were able to score once in the top of the seventh, as Reeder hit a single, Johnson drew a walk and Mikayla Briggs singled in Reeder. However, the Pirates were then able to get out of the inning to end the contest.
Schaad noted that her team battled until the last out, but was hurt by having most of their baserunners in scoring position with two outs already having been recorded, making it easy for the Pirates to get out of innings with minimal damage.
“Late in the game, we had two outs on us and there’s not much you can do,” she said. “Our short game wasn’t there today to put them across. ‘Refuse to lose’ is our slogan and they never give up, that’s for sure.”
For Brininger, one thing that pleased him was the performances of his newcomers. Thanks to returning a lot of veterans from last year’s squad, he had high hopes for this season, but the assistance provided by Morgan, Adams, Starkey and Crum has been a big help in starting out 6-0 in league play.
“The great thing is that with three freshmen playing varsity, I didn’t know what I was getting into, but they got on base four, five, six times between them,” he said. “They’ve really impressed me with how comfortable they’ve gotten.”
Rob Hamilton may be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 204.