A five-run third inning powered Cleveland to an 8-4 varsity softball win at Triton on Monday to improve to 3-0 on the season.
“A couple of errors there put us between a rock and a hard place,” said Triton coach Mark Whitman. “When you dig yourself a hole, it’s hard to get out of it. I thought the girls battled. They didn’t quit tonight. People stepped up and did what they had to do. That’s one of those games you live and learn from. Just got to keep their confidence up. That’s the big key.”
Senior Caroline Marshall was the pitcher of record for the Hawks (1-2), yielding four earned runs on six hits and four walks, with two strikeouts across three innings. Junior Gracyn Slaughter pitched four innings of relief, giving up two earned runs on two hits and one walk, with three strikeouts.
“Gracyn came in and did an outstanding job and gave up only two hits,” Whitman said. “Caroline just couldn’t quite get it going to begin with.”
Starter Ashlyn Faulkner was the winning pitcher for the Rams (3-0). In four innings, the junior gave up two earned runs on four hits and two walks, with four strikeouts. Sophomore Zoey Jones pitched three innings of relief, yielding no earned runs on no hits, one walk and two hit batters, with four strikeouts.
Senior Jada Horne had two hits and two RBIs to lead Triton at the plate.
Slaughter had one hit, one RBI and one run scored. Brittany Ireland had one hit and one RBI. Reagan Bradham had two runs scored. Kaila Cooney scored once.
“We didn’t hit the ball,” Whitman said. “We put the ball on the bat a little bit, but we just didn’t hit when we needed to hit.”
Sophomore Sarah Prosser was 3-for-3 at the plate, with two RBIs and one run scored for Cleveland. Senior Nikki Piatek had two doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored for the Rams.
Lacy Smothers had one hit, one RBI and one run scored. Caris Allen had one hit and one run scored. Iona Davis had one hit. Hannah Evans, Christina Schoenerman and Brionna Vereen scored one run apiece.
Piatek and Camryn Barbour drew back-to-back walks to start the game. Piatek advanced when Allen hit into a fielder’s choice and scored on a wild pitch to give the Rams a 1-0 lead.
Triton tied the game in the bottom of the second inning when Slaughter led off with a base hit, took second on a passed ball, stole third and scored on a base hit from Horne.
But Cleveland answered by taking the lead for good in the top of the third, scoring five runs on five hits, two walks and an error.
Triton scored in the bottom of the second when Bradham drew a walk, advanced on a Gracie Byrd sacrifice and a ground ball from Cooney and scored on a base hit from Ireland.
In the bottom of the fifth, Bradham and Cooney reached on errors and Ireland was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Bradham scored when Slaughter was hit by a pitch and Cooney scored on a ground ball from Horne to cut the lead to two.
The pitch that hit Ireland in the fifth, struck her on the forearm and she was forced to exit the game. Ireland later returned for an at-bat in the seventh, but Horne moved in from the outfield to finish the game at the catcher position.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do there,” Whitman said. “It was between (Horne) and Jackie (Upperman). They’re the only two that’s ever caught before. None of the rest of them catch. Jada said, ‘I can do it.’ I’m proud of her. She stepped up. She got two big hits tonight and she stepped up when we needed a catcher. I don’t know what Brittany’s situation will be. I hope she can play tomorrow. I think she’ll be able to. If she can swing the bat, I think she can catch. I don’t know how good she can throw. I think that will be the key.”
In the top of the sixth, Thompson drew a walk and Prosser singled with one out. Both advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a double from Piatek.
Triton was able to load the bases with two out in the bottom of the seventh, but Jones ended the game with a strikeout.
Triton resumes Tri-County Six 3-A Conference play at home against Union Pines (1-1) on Tuesday.