PLYMOUTH — Once they got the win, the Zebras got in a little defensive practice.
The Pilgrims didn’t put them through many paces in the game.
Plymouth batters put up just three hits as they were shut out by Rochester ace Leighnee Smith, and the ICGSA Class 3A No. 13 Zebras used a six-run fifth to dime their hosts 11-0 in five innings Thursday at Plymouth. With a game against Class 2A No. 10 Lewis Cass scheduled for today, Rochester stuck around to field some balls following the abbreviated win.
“This game today was not reflective of how we’ve been playing,” said Plymouth head softball coach Ed Kelso. “We’ll pick it up again tomorrow.”
Smith fanned six while giving up only one walk in five innings of work inside the circle for the shutout in the Pilgrims’ home opener.
“Leighnee has been a consistent pitcher all season long hitting her spots like what was intended,” said Rochester head coach Carla Holland. “There were a few times where she got behind in the count and had to pitch up the middle, and that’s when they got their hits. When she works ahead she does well.”
The Pilgrims — out their number one battery lineup as pitcher Marissa Sullivan DH’d with the flu and Emilee Keilman sat out with an injury — opened strong at the game as sophomore pitcher Britney Horvath and the Plymouth defense got out of a bases loaded, one-out jam in the top of the first, but Rochester converted two walks, three stolen bases and a hit into two runs in the second.
Plymouth held the Zebras in the third, but a pair of errors and three hits keyed a six-run fourth as Rochester batted through the order in the frame. The home team committed three more errors in the fifth, and the visitors cranked out a pair of triples by Alagnie Sroufe and Maggie Good against Plymouth freshman reliever Miriah Brumley for three more runs to complete the mercy rule win.
“You’ve got to play defense. It doesn’t matter who’s throwing; you’ve got to play defense behind them,” said Kelso. “Yes, we moved people around, but we told the girls after the game it doesn’t matter what lineup we put out there, we’ve got to play. All the little things we work on in practice, we come out here and we’ve got to execute and we didn’t, and that’s why the score was 11 to zip.”
Plymouth also recorded a pair of triples at the game as April Hampton lined a two-out shot down the right field line in the second and Katie Wojcik tripled to right-center on a full count offering in the third, but Hampton was left stranded and Wojcik was caught sliding home on a hit-and-run play.
Kailey Whitley was also caught heading home in the bottom of the fourth as Hampton grounded into a 1-3-2 double play after Whitley’s single and a Rochester error that moved her over to third.
“They were waiting for us. They let us hang around and we got some runners on bases and just couldn’t get the hit to bring them home,” Kelso said.
“(Wojcik) is doing great; she’s up there hitting the ball for us like we know she can, and April has been a real pleasant surprise. We’ve been running short on players with some injuries and illness and stuff, we brought her up, and all she’s done is hit since she got here. That’s a sure-fire way of getting in the lineup.”
Rochester put up eight hits in the win, meanwhile, and pressured the Pilgrims defense with five stolen bases and three extra bags on wild pitches.
“We started adjusting in the fourth,” said Holland. “Once we get adjusted we do well. I think we should adjust a little bit sooner. Our baserunners, we’ve always been aggressive; we always try to look for that extra base if we can.”
Rochester improves to 8-1 with Thursday’s win, while Plymouth slips to 3-6 with its second straight loss. The Pilgrims resume Northern Lakes Conference play with another home game against Warsaw tonight at 5 p.m.
• ROCHESTER 11,
PLYMOUTH 0 (5 innings)
Rochester: 020 63 — 11 8 1
Plymouth: 000 00 — 0 3 5
Leighnee Smith (W) and Alexis Hampton; Britney Horvath (L), Miriah Brumley (5) and Cassie Gaines.
3B: Katie Wojcik (P), April Hampton (P), Kaelee Smith (R), Alagnie Sroufe (R), Maggie Good (R).
Records: Plymouth 3-6, Rochester 8-1.