Lady Pilgrims drop NLC opener with Memorial

PLYMOUTH — The Plymouth softball team didn’t have any problems hitting the ball in the conference opener last night; it was when the hits came that caused the problems.
The Lady Pilgrim offense couldn’t find a timely hit as it left eight runners on base — five in scoring position — in a 7-2 loss to visiting Elkhart Memorial.
“We aren’t explosive so when we get the chances we need to take advantage,” said Plymouth skipper Ed Kelso when asked about his teams missed opportunities to score. “We are going to work on that in practice a little bit in tomorrow’s practice. We aren’t as aggressive as I’d like to see on the bases so we are going to work on that as well.”
The Chargers didn’t seem to have the same problems.
Elkhart Memorial’s Lauren Strausborger started the scoring for the Chargers in fine fashion. 
She smashed a line drive to the right-center gap and circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run. The Chargers picked up three more runs in the second to break out to a 4-0 lead. A lead-off triple by Alix Taber and an RBI single by Ali Lavagnilio scored the first run of the inning. A walk and a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by the ninth batter in the line-up, Kara Summers, put runners at second and third for the Chargers. Both runs scored on a double to right field by Paula Strausborger in the next at-bat.
Elkhart Memorial added to the lead with two more runs in the fourth inning. 
A walk to the first batter in the inning and back-to-back errors by Plymouth infielders loaded the bases for the Chargers. Plymouth starting pitcher Marissa Sullivan walked the lead-off hitter forcing in the first run of the inning. The second run crossed the plate after Emilee Keilman made a play on a softly hit ball that landed in front of the plate, but she wasn’t able to make a tag on the runner before she scored.
Britney Horvath relieved Sullivan of her pitching duties in the sixth inning and allowed the last Charger run on a walk and a pair of wild pitches.
“Marissa’s ankle was bothering her a little bit and we thought that would be a good place to get her some rest and get ready for our game on Wednesday,” Kelso said of the pitching change. “Britney came in and threw well. Gave up one run but settled down and threw strikes.”
Plymouth had its opportunities to score but just couldn’t push runs across the plate. 
April Hampton led off the second inning with a single to right field and advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Sarah Iwinski. A ground-out to second base by Horvath allowed Hampton to move to third base, but she was stranded there after Summer McClellan popped out in foul territory to end the inning.
Plymouth stranded two more runners in the third inning and one in the fourth before finally getting on the board in the sixth inning.
Sullivan reached on a fielding error by the Charger first baseman and advanced to second base on the play. She scored on a triple to left-center by Morgan O’Neal. Hampton singled to left field, her second hit of the game, to score O’Neal. Iwinski followed that up with a single of her own, putting runners at first and third with no outs.  Elkhart Memorial starting pitcher Lavagnilia was able to get the next three Lady Pilgrims out to end the threat.
Plymouth was led offensive by Sullivan, Iwinski and Hampton with two hits each.
With the loss, Plymouth drops to 3-5 on the season and 0-1 in the Northern Lakes Conference. 
Today is a much needed day off for the Lady Pilgrims after playing five games last week and looking ahead to five more games remaining in this week. Plymouth will host Concord on Wednesday and then travel to Rochester and Warsaw on Thursday and Friday respectively. The Lady Pilgrims round out the week in a round robin doubleheader at Pioneer where they will play the host Panthers in one game and Whiting in another.
At Plymouth
Memorial: 130 201 0 — 7 5 2
Plymouth: 000 002 0 — 2 8 3
Marissa Sullivan (L), Britney Horvath (6) and Emilee Keilman; Ali Lavagnilio (W) and Nikki Ambrose
2B: Paula Strausborger (EM), Lavagnilio (EM)
3B: Morgan O’Neal (P), Lavagnilio (EM)
HR: Lauren Strausborger (EM)
Records: Plymouth 3-5 (0-1 NLC), Elkhart Memorial 2-6 (1-0 NLC)