Lady Pilgrims lose opener, 5-2

PLYMOUTH — After canceling its pre-season scrimmage with LaVille last week, Plymouth’s youth showed a bit in its opener Wednesday.
An overthrow from short to first with a runner heading to second in the top of the third inning cost the Lady Pilgrims three runs, and that error ended up making all the difference as Plymouth fell 5-2 to a surging Mishawaka squad at home.
“We had the jitters going. I told them, I said ‘OK, now we’ve got our scrimmage out of the way’ because our scrimmage got cancelled because it was spring break,” said Plymouth head softball coach Ed Kelso. “We always hate to miss that because it gives us a chance to get out on the field, and you’ve got to get that out of the way before you get out on the field. But hey, nonetheless they played pretty good. I told them we were probably just about two plays away from winning that game two to zip.”
The two teams were locked in a scoreless tie until Mishawaka broke through in the third.
After Plymouth third baseman Britney Horvath’s throw to Emilee Keilman behind the plate caught Mishawaka lead-off hitter Bethany Stoltz advancing home on a squeeze play, the visitors got a piece of timely hitting from six hole hitter Shelby Smith with the bases loaded. Smith put the ball in play to short, and Mishawaka plated three runs when Plymouth short stop Morgan O’Neal overthrew to first instead of tossing the ball over to second for the easy out.
“This was our sixth game. In our opener we left nine on base and eight in scoring position, and we had another game at Warsaw where we left like eight runners on base,” said Mishawaka coach Brian Miller. “We’re just learning to take what’s given to us from a defensive standpoint, but also putting the ball in play and making people make plays. Shelby Smith there in that situation, tie game, bases loaded, and really our four and five hitters had not gotten the job done, and we had a tough call at home on the previous play. She went for a power slap, she adjusted her speed, she put the ball in play.”
“Those are the things that we’re going to work on and correct. She’s a good player, she understands,” said Kelso of his junior short stop.
“We’ve been preaching routine for four weeks. We don’t need the diving catch, we just make the routine plays, and Marissa (Sullivan)’s pitching should be enough to keep us in games if we can figure out how to score some runs.”
Mishawaka tacked on two more runs in the top of the fourth to extend its lead to 5-0 as one and two hitters Beth Stoltz and Taylor Stoltz reached on a single and a walk, respectively, and Hailey Allison’s hard grounder through the gap at short scored both after a sacrifice bunt from Jessica Fraling.
Plymouth responded with two runs of its own in the bottom of the inning to give itself new life.
Keilman and Sullivan reached on a pair of singles, then advanced on a wild pitch to set the table for junior outfielder April Hampton’s two-RBI line single into right. Hampton’s shot cut the deficit to 5-2, but a foul out and strike out left her stranded on base, and Plymouth went down in order in the next three frames to start the season 0-1.
“April has done that several times,” said Kelso. “Last year she did that and got some big RBIs for us. She steps up here again today. She’s coming off a bit of a sprained ankle so she doesn’t move as fast as she normally does, but she gets up there today and knocks out a little base hit and two runs score. You can’t ask for more.”
Crystal Markiewicz got the win inside the circle throwing a two-hit, 10 strikeout gem, while Sullivan also got off to a decent start giving up eight hits with 10 Ks of her own.
While the Pilgrims opened up their season at home, Wednesday’s contest was Mishawaka’s third straight win after an 0-3 start to the season, a streak that included a doubleheader sweep of Class 4A No. 9 Chesterton over the weekend.
“We started out 0-3. Lost at Jimtown 4-2, lost at Warsaw by two and had the bases loaded with two outs, and a foul ball that was just inches out probably would have tied the ball game for us. We went to West Noble and we started a whole different lineup, and we just got waxed last Friday. I think it was a little eye-opener for some people who thought every game Coach is just going to put me out there, and in reality you’ve got to earn your time,” said Miller. “We bounced back Saturday and beat the number nine team in the state twice against Chesterton. Spring break week is kind of a tough week. Kids are out of their routine; who knows what they’re doing during the day, but this was a nice win. Plymouth’s a good team, they’re much improved. The gal Marissa is as good as you’re going to get in this area, brings a lot of gas. We knew what we were in for, and I think them not having played a game certainly made an impact on the ball game.”
At Plymouth
Mishawaka: 003 200 0 — 5 8 1
Plymouth: 000 200 0 — 2 2 3
Crystal Markiewicz (W, 2-1); Marissa Sullivan (L, 0-1).
Records: Mishawaka 3-3, Plymouth 0-1.
JV score: Mishawaka 19, Plymouth 0.