BOURBON — With a freshman inside the circle, Triton’s veteran squad needed to make plays behind her.
Instead, the Lady Trojans gave up nine errors in the drizzling wet conditions at their home field, and Rochester batters capitalized off 14 hits and nine bases on balls to rout their hosts 21-3 in five innings in the Zebras’ season opener Monday.
“We’ve got a freshman kid pitching and I understand that, so we have to play some defense behind her, and I thought our defense was not very good tonight,” said Triton head softball coach Steve McBride.
“I was disappointed in our play today. I’m not saying that Rochester isn’t the better team — I don’t know — but I thought we made too many errors, we missed relays, we walked people, and we weren’t aggressive at the plate. These are things that we expect out of our team, and we didn’t do those things.”
The Zebras pounded out 14 hits, including seven extra-base tags, and drew eight walks — along with a hit batter in the second — against beleaguered Triton freshman Mallorie Jennings in just her second outing. Meanwhile, the Trojan defense struggled against Rochester’s offensive pressure, committing nine errors for eight unearned runs in the loss.
“We’ve got offensive players; we’ve got big bats,” said Rochester head coach Carla Holland. “We want to make sure this year that we are attacking all the time, we’re not just being comfortable with getting that one run. We want to constantly make things happen on the bases, and I think our team proved today that they did do that.”
Rochester scratched out a run off an RBI double from catcher Maggie Good that scored short stop Abbie Malchow in the first, and the Zebras opened up a 9-0 lead with eight more runs off five hits in the second, including a grand slam to right by lanky junior Alanie Sroufe, who finished 2 for 3 officially with a homer and a double for five RBI to complement her four runs Monday.
“She’s getting stronger,” said Holland of Sroufe. “Physically, she’s getting stronger. Mentally, she’s getting stronger, more confidence. I think that those home runs come when you’re not trying… She was just trying to make contact with the ball. Those things happen. We tell those girls don’t try so hard, it’ll happen, and it did for her.”
The visitors tacked on another run in the third as Sroufe reached on a fielder’s choice and scored on a throwing error from short to bring the score to 10-0.
The Trojans answered back with three runs off two hits in the bottom of the inning as second baseman Hannah Downing tripled a 3-1 offering from Leighnee Smith to deep right to score Crystal Overmyer and Lindsay Ganshorn — who reached on a throwing error from Smith — but with new life at 10-3 in the fourth, Triton made four errors and Jennings walked three batters as Rochester batted through the order, plating seven more runs to put the game effectively out of reach.
The Zebras brought the game to its final margin with three runs in the final frame off an RBI double from Sroufe, an RBI single from Good and two more runs off an error in left.
Triton, which slides to 2-1 with the loss after a pair of victories in a doubleheader with Argos Saturday, has little time to dwell on the defeat as the team hosts Winamac at 5 p.m. today before traveling to Wawasee Wednesday.
“It’s one game. We’ve got another one tomorrow night, and hopefully we play better,” said McBride.
“We’ve just got to pick it up from this point and go on to the next game.”
• ROCHESTER 21,
TRITON 3, 5 innings
R: 181 74 — 21 14 2
T: 003 00 — 3 3 9
Leighnee Smith (W, 1-0), Abbie Malchow (5) and Alexis Hampton; Mallorie Jennings (L, 1-1) and Katie Claxon.
2B: Hampton (R), Ali Butler (R), Arin Johnson (R), Alanie Sroufe (R)
3B: Johnson (R), Kaelee Smith (R), Hannah Downing (T)
HR: Sroufe (R)
Records: Triton 2-1, Rochester 1-0