EDGINGTON -- As his team gears up to begin the Western Big 6 softball season on Saturday, Moline coach Mark Gerlach knows where the Maroons' strength lies.|
"We know these girls can hit,'' Gerlach said after his club did just that against Rockridge, pounding out 15 hits in a 16-2, five-inning victory highlighted by a third inning in which Moline (3-1) sent 14 batters to the plate and scored 10 runs to add to an early 3-0 lead.
"Pitching and defense are a little different; we've got to wait and see what happens there. Defensively we're good, even though we still have a lot of things to learn. However, pitching scares me sometimes.''
Thursday's starting pitcher, Cassie Shaw, did her best to quell her coach's fears. Shaw (2-1) scattered five hits in three innings, allowing just one earned run with three strikeouts before giving way to Alaina Hofmann, who allowed four walks but struck out four and pitched two innings of hitless softball.
Shaw also got the Maroons going at the plate, belting a one-out solo home run in the top of the second inning. The next batter, Kellie Smet, also homered as Moline grabbed a 3-0 lead before its third-inning breakout.
Smet was 3-for-3 with three RBIs and three runs to pace the Maroons, with Jordan de los Reyes going 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Shaw had two hits and two RBIs, Michaela Guthrie added two hits and three RBIs, and Becky Lankford notched three hits and two RBIs.
Coming off a doubleheader split with Illini West in its West Central North opener on Wednesday, Rockridge (2-3) did get two hits each from Kaitlyn Robison and Genna Flaherty. Flaherty and Tayah Hayes each had third-inning RBI singles, but the Rockets saw bases-loaded opportunities go by the wayside in the fourth and fifth.
"I thought we hit well too,'' said Rockridge coach Jason Lingle, whose club was hurt by six errors. "The difference was they minimized their mistakes. Right now, we're leaving our pitchers out there for too many extra batters.''
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