After collecting three shutouts in their first three games, it didn’t take long for Cardington’s scoreless streak in softball to be snapped by Highland on Wednesday, as they Scots tallied a run in the top of the first inning.
However, the Pirates would go on to respond with four runs in the bottom of that frame and never looked back on their way to winning by a 10-3 margin to improve to 4-0, 3-0 in league play. Highland falls to 2-4, 2-2 in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.
The Scots struck first as Parker Steck got a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Morgan Wilhelm, took third on a passed ball and was driven home by Harlee Steck. However, that lead would be short-lived.
Hits by Samantha Brininger and Alyson Adams gave the Pirates runners on the corners with one out. A Brooklyn Whitt hit tied the game and a triple by Rylie Partlow brought in two more runs. Savannah Chalfant would then contribute an RBI single to give Cardington a 4-1 lead.
Cardington would add another run to their advantage in the second inning, as Brininger was driven in by a Dakota Crum sacrifice fly. Meanwhile, while the Scots were getting base-runners, they were struggling to bring them across home plate.
In the top of the third inning, Wilhelm reached base and a single by Kaitlyn Carney put runners on first and second with two outs. The Pirates recorded two outs, but then Katie Coffee singled to load the bases. Pirate pitcher Makenna McClure was able to strike out the next batter to end that threat, though.
“We had six hits, but only pushed three runs across,” said head coach Ashley Ball. “I was hoping for more with the way we came out, but we couldn’t keep the momentum after the first inning.”
Highland would get back on the board in the fourth inning, as Wilhelm drove in Scot pitcher Lucy Smith with a hit. Pirate coach Tod Brininger felt his team wasn’t as sharp defensively as they have been, which led to extra base-runners in the contest.
“We just didn’t keep pressing like we usually do,” he said. “Our defense wasn’t as sharp and we usually go if our defense is good, the offense is good. But we’ve got so many good hitters in our line-up, so even if a couple of our top hitters don’t hit, others will get hits.”
In the bottom of the fourth, the coach rode the middle and lower part of his line-up to a pair of runs. After Crum got on base due to a Scot error, Whitt singled to put runners on the corners and Partlow drove her in with a fielder’s choice groundout. Allie Moore then cracked a single to make the score 7-2.
The Scots would get a big hit in the top of the fifth, as Bridget Oder smashed a ball over the Pirate defense and ended up scoring on an inside-the-park home run, but Highland wouldn’t be able to add to their three-run total. After McClure got out of the inning, Chalfant finished the game with two perfect innings, striking out four.
“They’re such different pitchers,” Brininger said of McClure and Chalfant. “Makenna hits her spots well and Savannah can blow it by a lot of hitters and has multiple pitches that are tough to hit.”
The Pirates got a run in their half of the fifth after Samantha Brininger got a double and was driven hope by a Crum single. In the sixth, Cardington got back-to-back hits from Whitt and Partlow to put runners on second and third, an RBI sacrifice fly from Moore and a single from Chalfant to provide their final margin of victory. For Highland, Ball simply felt her team hurt themselves too many times defensively.
“We had six errors and that doesn’t help the situation,” she said. “Not all of them were on hits; we had a lot of trouble throwing the ball in and hitting the cut-off man. We’ll have to make adjustments and be ready for Northmor on Friday.”
After his team won their first three games by a combined 39-0 margin, Brininger noted that facing a little adversity against the Scots was something that could help his squad.
“It was something we needed,” he said. “We need to play some competitive or close games to get us ready for that tournament game or league game that goes down to the wire. Highland’s a young team, but good and they’ll be very good in coming years.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS