Lady Pilgrims lose game of inches to Concord

PLYMOUTH — It was a game of inches in Plymouth’s Centennial Park last night.
A couple more inches left on a hard line drive by April Hampton in the first could have plated two Lady Pilgrims runs early. Another couple inches to the left and Emilee Keilman could have been standing on second base instead of flying out to the center fielder in the gap. And if Bailey Brown could have stretched her arm out two more inches she may have caught a fly ball to right field that ended up a run-scoring triple for Concord.
All of those inches may have led to the first Northern Lakes Conference win of the season by the Plymouth softball team. Instead they added up to a loss, and it was Concord coming away with the 5-2 victory.
Plymouth starting pitcher Marissa Sullivan cruised through the first three innings of the game. She struck out six and allowed only two Concord runners to reach first base.
The third inning didn’t go as well.
After walking the leadoff hitter she gave up a base hit to her pitching counterpart and a throwing error in right moved the runners to second and third base. Each runner advanced a base on a wild pitch, scoring the first run of the game. The second run came on the triple by Concord’s clean-up hitter that fell just beyond the outstretched arms of Brown in right field. Plymouth was able to answer back in the bottom of the fifth inning. Keilman hit a fly ball that tipped off of the left fielder’s glove for a double. Sullivan walked to put runners at first and second. Morgan O’Neal followed that up with a single that scored Keilman and both Lady Pilgrims were able to move up a base on the throw to the plate. With runners at second and third, Hampton came through with a line drive up the middle to score Sullivan and tie the game at two.
Plymouth couldn’t hold on to the momentum, though, and allowed Concord to regain the lead with three more runs in the top of the sixth.
Lefty slap hitter Paige Freeze led the inning off with a bunt that bounced high off the plate and didn’t allow for a play to be made on her at first base. Kennadie Lopez followed that up with another slap hit through the hole and into left field. The ball was misplayed between the Lady Pilgrim left fielder and shortstop, allowing both runners to move up a base.
The first run of the inning came in the next at-bat on a ground ball to short. The throw went across the field to first base, but Sommer McClellan pulled her foot off the bag to make a play on the runner at the plate. Her throw was late, allowing both runners to advance safely. Singles by the next two Concord hitters plated the other two runs in the inning.
Plymouth coach Ed Kelso was a little disappointed in his team’s effort after knotting the game up at two.
“When we come back after somebody is up on us and tie it up we have to find that extra gear and mentality that we are going to hold you and come back and score some more,” he said. “We scored two and just let them come right back and score three more in the top of the inning. That hurts us.” Plymouth did show some signs of greatness in its defensive effort. Sullivan made a nice diving catch on a bunt that was popped up just outside of the first base line. She also made a nice play in the fourth to hold Concord to only two runs in the inning. With a runner at third, the hitter grounded a ball back to Sullivan, and she was able to catch the runner off the bag too far and flipped the ball to Britney Horvath at third, who made the tag and then threw the hitter out at second as she tried to advance a base on the play.
“We talk about that pump fake and we were making a call on that in the dugout too,” Kelso commented about the play. “Marissa did it and it worked great and we got a little bonus getting the girl out at second.”
Hampton had two hits and is now on a three-game hitting streak. She has hit safely in five of the last six games for the Lady Pilgrims.
Plymouth drops to 3-6 overall and 0-2 in conference play with the loss. The Lady Pilgrims start a week-long road swing now with games at Rochester today, Warsaw on Friday, and two games at Pioneer on Saturday.
At Plymouth
Concord: 000 203 0 — 5 8 1
Plymouth: 000 020 0 — 2 5 2
Marissa Sullivan (L) and Emilee Keilman; Jenny Miller (W) and Taylor Nelson
2B: Keilman (P)
3B: Sammy Swain (C)
Records: Plymouth 3-6 (0-2 NLC), Concord 6-3 (2-0 NLC)