WALKERTON — On a cold evening in Walkerton, John Glenn’s bats got hot quick. The Lady Falcons’ hitting cooled off in the third inning, but their initial outburst was more than enough.
Glenn put up 10 runs over the first two innings and backed up a strong start at the plate with five frames of shutout softball to lift the team to a five-inning, 10-0 win over visiting Caston in the Falcons’ season-opener Friday.
Facing a Caston squad that had opened the season with an 11-6 win over Northern State Conference-foe Knox the night before, Glenn softball coach Jon Banks told his players to be ready.
“That was our plan — I told them before the game, I said ‘Hey, Caston took out one of our conference teams last night, and they’re coming in here and they don’t care who you are, they’re going to take a win.’ And I told them we’re not losing on this field; we have to take it to them,” he said.
The Falcons obliged, jumping on Caston early and scratching out three runs on the strength of three hits — including back-to-back home runs from Aubry Banks and Koral Mendenhal — following a three up, three down top of the inning by Caston.
Banks’ long ball, a two-run shot that scored Josie Jankowski following the latter’s one-out single into shallow center, went straight out to center and banged hard off the scoreboard to put Glenn up 2-0. Mendenhal followed up with a solo shot out to left-center to push the advantage to 3-0 before a pair of fly-outs ended the inning.
For Banks, the home run was something of a family affair. Not only is she the daughter of Glenn coach Jon Banks, but her sister, former Lady Falcons standout Rosemarie Banks, was also on hand to watch her little sister go yard.
“Aubrey, that hit the first home run, her sister was in the dugout, and her sister used to hit the home runs when she was here for us, so it’s really nice to see it kind of runs in the family,” said Jon Banks. “Koral has always had it, it’s just now she’s staying with it. I expect those two, and I’ve got a couple more that every time they step up to the plate they’ve got potential power to put it out.”
Banks’ and Mendenhal’s homers seemed to demoralize the Comets, who went down in order again in the second, and the Falcons kept the pressure on batting through the order in the second as they scored seven runs off five hits, two errors and a hit batter.
Macy Jankowski led off the frame with a flare into shallow right, and Stephanie Dreessen advanced her to third with a long fly over Caston center fielder Jordan Moss’ head, narrowly beating out the throw to second to put two runners in scoring position with none out.
Brittany Snoddgrass’ blooper straight up in front of the plate landed in the middle of a campfire between Caston pitcher Tori Rentschler, catcher Tierney Rentschler and third baseman Marli Leazenby to load the bases, and Jankowski scored on a wild pitch. Brea Klingerman reached on a fielder’s choice when she slapped the ball back to Tori Rentschler and Dreessen beat out her throw to third to pack the bags once again.
Carah Ochs was hit by a pitch, scoring Dreessen, and Snoddgrass scored and Klingerman and Ochs both advanced on a wild pitch. Josie Jankowski drove them both home with a liner into right, and she scored in turn when a Banks grounder to third was overthrown, allowing her to reach all the way to third. She later scored on a wild pitch to give Glenn a 10-0 cushion, a margin that would prove to be the final score.
Banks went 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs, and Dreessen was also 2-for-3 with a run. Josie Jankowski finished a perfect 3-for-3 with two runs and a stolen base batting in the second spot in Glenn’s lineup.
“Hitting, we’ve worked on a lot,” said Jon Banks. “I brought a guy in, Coach Mike Traub — he used to be a Glenn guy — and he’s come in and helped with the girls. The girls have really taken off with him. Just the way he explains it is different than what I was doing, but if they actually look at it, it means the same thing. He works with a lot of our younger girls, and they’ve really caught on.”
While the Falcons poured on nine hits — including eight over the first two innings alone — Holly Adams was in command inside the circle Friday. The sophomore hurler struck out eight while giving up just one walk and one hit for the shutout.
“Holly really pitched a good game today making them hit the ball. She moves it around a lot, so that’s a big plus — she can hit her spots,” said Banks.
“She and Macy Jankowski, I just rotate them back and forth, and there’s really not a number one. If Holly’s on and Macy’s not, Holly’s throwing. If Macy’s on, she’s throwing. Other than that we’d have to take our catcher out from behind the plate to throw, and I don’t think that’s going to happen. We also have another pitcher, Brittany Snoddgrass, who is playing third, so if we have to use three pitchers we have the potential to throw three.”
Adams was backed up by an errorless Glenn defense in the win.
With eight strikeouts in 16 at-bats, Caston didn’t challenge the Falcons frequently in the field, but Glenn’s defense looked solid the few times it was put to the test in the opener.
In one highlight, Banks picked off Caston right fielder Taylor Smith — who had the lone hit for the Comets at the game — as she tried to steal second in the top of the third. And Mendenhall recorded three assists after moving in from left in the fourth inning, the last two for the game’s final two outs.
“I think we weren’t really tested on the short game. I want the girls to be solid everywhere,” said Jon Banks. “I think our outfield looks solid; I’ve got six girls I can put out there at any time, and we would be really good. The infield, they’re getting tight, and I told them that’s what we’ve got to have. I told them if I take somebody out and put somebody in for you that kid’s got to be just as good.”
While Caston slips to an even 1-1 with its first loss, Glenn opens at 1-0. The Falcons will try to keep the good times rolling as they travel to Westview for a doubleheader beginning at 10 a.m. EST today.
• JOHN GLENN 10, CASTON 0
Caston: 000 00 — 0 1 3
Glenn: 370 00 — 10 9 0
Holly Adams (W) and Aubry Banks; Tori Rentschler (L) and Tierney Rentschler.
2B: Stephanie Dreessen (G)
HR: Banks, Koral Mendenhal (G).
Records: Glenn 1-0, Caston 1-1