Plymouth softball dimes NorthWood for NLC road win

NAPPANEE — Plymouth and NorthWood entered Friday’s softball game in Nappanee both looking for their first win in conference play this season.
The Lady Pilgrims struck early and often to make sure they would be the ones leaving with that win, needing only five innings to down the Lady Panthers by an 11-0 count.
The Lady Pilgrims jumped on top with four runs in the top of the first and never looked back, scoring in each turn at bat, and senior pitcher Marissa Sullivan kept Northwood off the board, allowing just two baserunners while the Plymouth offense was amassing enough runs to end the game early by the runs-ahead rule.
Kailey Whitley began a 3-for-4 day at the plate with a solid single up the middle to start the game and get Plymouth off on the right track. After a sacrifice bunt by Emilee Keilman, Sullivan drew a walk, and Morgan O’Neal reached on an error to load the bases. April Hampton was plunked on the ankle with a pitch to force Whitley in for the first run, then Sullivan scored on a wild pitch with Sarah Iwinski at the plate. Iwinski’s grounder to the left side brought home O’Neal, and Hampton scored on NorthWood’s second error of the inning on a ball hit by Britney Horvath to put NorthWood down 4-0 before the Lady Panthers ever came to bat.
Plymouth made it 5-0 in the second when Samantha Wojcik led off with a walk, moved to second on a passed ball, moved up one more base on a groundout to the right side by Bailey Brown, and scored on another single through the middle by Whitley.
The third inning saw the Lady Pilgrims expand the lead further with two more runs. Sullivan led off with a single and O’Neal followed with a double with Sullivan moving up to third on the hit. After a pair of strikeouts left the runners at second and third, Horvath worked a walk after fouling off several pitches to keep the inning alive. Just as it looked like NorthWood might yet get out of the inning with no damage, Wojcik took a two-strike pitch and drove it past the third baseman for a two-run single, plating Sullivan and O’Neal,
Whitley led off the fourth with her third straight hit, this one a triple to the right-center field fence, and she scored on a base hit by Keilman to make it 8-0.
While the Plymouth offense was steadily increasing its lead, Sullivan was making relatively quick work of the NorthWood hitters, not allowing the overmatched Panthers to make any serious threats to cut into the lead. The senior struck out seven through the first four innings as NorthWood struggled to make good contact, only managing a bloop single in the first inning for its lone hit. The Panthers had just one other baserunner, courtesy of a hit batter in the fourth.
With Sullivan holding down the NorthWood offense, the Lady Pilgrims went into the fifth looking for enough runs to give them a chance to end things in the bottom of the inning. Brown fought off a couple of pitches before lining a one-out single into center to get things started. Whitley hit another ball sharply toward the middle, but this time the NorthWood second baseman was able to make a backhand stop of the ball. The home team was unable to get the force play on Brown at second, though, leaving both her and Whitley safe. After a popup for the second out, Sullivan ripped a 3-2 pitch into left-center to score Brown and Whitley and give herself a 10-run lead to go into the bottom of the inning. Plymouth added one more run for good measure when O’Neal followed with a base hit to score Sullivan, who went out in the bottom of the inning and promptly struck out the side to end the game.
In addition to Whitley’s 3-for-4 day, Sullivan finished 2-for-2 with a pair of walks. Whitley and Sullivan each scored three times and O’Neal crossed the plate twice as eight different Lady Pilgrims had at least one RBI. Sullivan finished with 10 strikeouts in the circle and allowed no walks and just the one base hit.
The Lady Pilgrims finish the first round of Northern Lakes Conference play Monday at home against Northridge.
• PLYMOUTH 11, NORTHWOOD 0 (5 inn.)
At Nappanee
Plymouth: 412 13 — 11 10 1
NorthWood: 000 00 — 0  1  4
Marissa Sullivan (W) and Emilee Keilman
Ramer (L) and Mattingly
2B: Morgan O’Neal (P), Sullivan (P)
3B: Kailey Whitley (P)
Records: Plymouth 5-11 (1-5 NLC), NorthWood 2-13 (0-6 NLC)