Trojans trump Knox in NSC contest

BOURBON — With a young lineup and a roster full of injuries, Triton has sometimes had trouble fielding the ball this season.
Luckily for the Lady Trojans, they’ve been able to make up for it at the plate.
Triton’s batting order produced 13 hits — including six during a six-run fourth inning — to help offset five errors, and the Trojans rallied past visiting Knox Monday in the two teams’ Northern State Conference opener in Bourbon, 11-10.
“We spend a lot of time on hitting. To start out the season, we scored zero runs, zero runs, two runs and one run in our first four games,” said Triton head coach Steve McBride. “We were starting six freshmen, two sophomores and a senior, so it was kind of a big step up for them. We really worked hard on the hitting, and we’ve got some kids now that are kind of understanding what varsity softball is all about.”
Triton took its first lead of the game in the fourth when it answered back from a three-run top of the inning by Knox to take the lead with six runs after entering the frame down 8-4.
Sophomore catcher Allyson Brown led off the inning with a double to the center field fence on a two-strike pitch from Knox senior pitcher Autumn Schlarp, then reached third on a single to shallow right from freshman right fielder Hannah Jennings, who reached second when Knox junior catcher Aubrey Winterrowd held off on the pickoff throw with Brown threatening to score. Brown scored anyway and Jennings advanced to third as Trojans freshman left fielder Janae Kreft poked a one-out two-strike single to right to bring the top of the order around, and senior second baseman Melanie Clemens reached on a safety squeeze play that scored Jennings. Freshman short stop Krystal Sellers knotted the score at 8-all when she followed up her third inning triple with a fly to left that got past Knox junior Sarah Hodge that drove in Kreft and Clemens and put Sellers on third, and she scored the go-ahead on a wild pitch in the next at-bat to give the Trojans their first advantage of the game, 9-8.
Erstwhile Triton sophomore pitcher Mallorie Jennings — playing in the designated hitter spot with a sprained ankle — took Schlarp deep on a two-strike offering straight out to center to give the home team an insurance run, and senior first baseman Sabrina Kaufman singled into shallow center on another two-strike pitch before Triton pitcher Brycelyn Garbison was hit in the back on the throw from home trying to steal first on a dropped third strike for the second out of the inning.
Brown reached first on a catching error by Knox junior first baseman Kaitlin Zachary in her second at-bat of the inning, but Schlarp ended the threat as Trojans pinch hitter Katie McPherson was called looking at a third strike, and the Redskins exited the inning down 10-8.
“There was no communication. People started hanging their heads,” said Knox coach Ron Kukula. “We did what we were supposed to do as far as the bats sometimes. We were hitting them to people, and they were finding the holes.
“We gave them the game. We’re up 8-4 three more innings to go, and we couldn’t put it together, we couldn’t finish it.”
Knox answered back with another run in the top of the fifth as Sarah Hodge tripled to deep center with one out and was scored on the next at-bat on a grounder to short by Zachary that cut Triton’s lead to one at 10-9.
The Trojans tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth when senior pinch hitter Kandace Terry and Kreft led off with back-to-back singles, and Sellers lined a one-out, 1-2 offering through the gap at second to plate Terry and stretch her team’s lead to 11-9.
Knox scored its final run in the sixth with the top of the order coming around as number one hitter and junior second baseman Libby Flora slapped a slow roller to second and beat out the throw, then advanced to second on a wild pitch. She reached third when sophomore short stop Sarah Coad grounded out to Garbison, and she scored on Schlarp’s ground-out back to the circle with one out.
Winterrowd singled to third, senior center fielder Kerstin Gierlowski singled through the gap at short, and both advanced into scoring position on a throwing error from left to third to keep Winterrowd in check to put the go-ahead run on second with two outs. But Garbison ended the threat as she battled back from a 3-1 count to strike out Knox senior pinch hitter Chelsea Combs looking, and she closed the door for good in the Redskins’ last chance in the seventh as she retired them in order with two strikeouts and a line out to second to hand Knox its first loss of the season.
Garbison struck out five while walking one and giving up nine hits for four earned runs as she moved to 5-0 since the freshman took over for Mallorie Jennings when she sprained her ankle in an Argos doubleheader April 7. It was the sixth straight win for the Lady Trojans after opening the season 0-4.
“She throws strikes. They hit the ball so we’re not walking a bunch of people,” said McBride of Garbison. “
Knox initially jumped out to a 4-1 lead Monday as the Trojans committed five costly errors for five unearned runs and five total scores by the Redskins in the first, second and third innings.
Flora reached first on a catching error at first to open the game, Schlarp scored her with a one-out double to deep center and was scored in turn on a single to short which was overthrown late to put Knox up 2-0 headed into the bottom of the first.
Triton answered back with a run of its own as Sellers reached on a fielder’s choice following a Clemens single and scored when Hannah Jennings singled into left and the ball was overthrown to third in an attempt to hold Sellers at third.
Knox stretched its lead back to 3-1 as Zachary led off the second with a single into center, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored one out later when Alyssa Redlin grounded out to second.
The Trojans went down in order in the second, and the Redskins scratched out another two runs in the third as Coad led off the frame with a walk, and Schlarp reached on a bunt. Both advanced on a throwing error from Kaufman on the play, and Winterrowd drove them home with a sacrifice fly to deep left.
Again Triton responded in the bottom of the inning, this time plating three as Kreft singled to left, Clemens reached on a bunt and a catching error at first, Sellers drove both in with a triple to deep center, and Mallorie Jennings scored Sellers with a hard grounder down the third baseline to cut the visitors’ lead to 5-4.
Again Knox stretched its lead with runs in the fourth as senior right fielder Taryn Brown led off the inning with a double to the center field fence, then scored two outs later on a Coad single. Schlarp put the ball in play, and it was overthrown from short, and Winterrowd scored both Coad and Schlarp on a two-out fly into center that brought Knox’s lead to 8-4.
“We’ve been putting the ball in play. When they have two strikes they’re taught to just put the ball in play,” said Kukula. “It doesn’t matter how far it goes. I want our opponents to field the ball and make the play to get them out of the inning. If they throw the ball away we’re going to be on that base path all game long.”
Triton improves to 6-4 and opens NSC play at 1-0 with Monday’s win. The Trojans travel to John Glenn for another conference match-up Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
“I didn’t think we were really sharp, but we started coming back in it, and runs secure a lot of things,” said McBride. “Hey, we’re happy to get the win. I think any game we play in the conference is going to test us. I don’t think there’s any team where we can just walk on the field and say we’re superior; that’s not where we’re at. We’re young, we’re banged up, but you know what, these kids don’t quit. They battle, I’ll say that.”
Knox slips to 3-1 with an 0-1 league start, meanwhile.
“It’s our first conference game, and what irks me more than anything else is we’ve been striving to not split or anything, to take the conference,” Kukula said. “They’ve been working their hind ends off and everything’s been executed well, but not today. It wasn’t our day today, let’s put it that way.”
• TRITON 11, KNOX 10
At Bourbon
Knox: 212 311 0 — 10 9 4
Triton: 103 610 x — 11 13 5
Brycelyn Garbison (W, 5-0) and Allyson Brown; Autumn Schlarp (L, 3-1) and Aubrey Winterrowd.
2B: Brown (T), Schlarp (K), Taryn Brown (K), Chelsea Combs (K)
3B: Krystal Sellers (T), Sarah Hodge (K)
HR: Mallorie Jennings (T)
Records: Triton 6-4 (1-0 NSC), Knox 3-1 (0-1 NSC)