The Saline Hornets varsity girls’ softball team advanced into the next round of SEC District play by defeating Ann Arbor Huron, 13-2, in five innings at Hornet Stadium Tuesday afternoon.
The Hornets were led by the fine pitching of junior hurler Alexandra Pace who scattered two runs on six hits over the five innings. Pace’s record stands at 9-3 on the year.
The lady Hornets jumped all over the River Rats scoring seven runs in their first time at bat. Senior center fielder Ashley Heren got the Hornets started with a lead-off single to center. As she has done so many times this season, Heren immediately stole second base.
Pace picked up a one out walk while senior Kelsey Alexander drove in the first run of the game when the Huron second baseman mishandled a ground ball, putting Pace at second and scoring Heren from second.
Sophomore Abigail Kleinschmidt, having one of her best days at the plate, cleared the bases with a long double to deep right-center field. Both Pace and Alexander scored on the drive.
Alexander showed great speed on the play. Pace took off from second and scored easily from second on Kleinschmidt’s blast. Her teammate Alexander was right behind Pace, sliding into home to score the third run of the inning.
Junior Madison Shelton walked to put runners at first and second, still with just one out. Junior Isabella Darmos popped out to second before Kleinschmidt and Shelton scored on a long double to center by senior Danielle Cobello.
Cobello scored when junior Regan Cox doubled to left. Heren, up for the second time in the inning, reached first on an error by the River Rats first baseman. Cox then scored on a single by junior Emma Schwartzenberger. It was 7-0 Saline at the end of the first inning.
The Hornets scored two more in the bottom of the second. Alexander got things started with a lead-off walk. She stole second on the next pitch. Kleinschmidt picked up her third RBI of the game when she singled to left, scoring Alexander.
Kleinschmidt took second on a River Rat wild pitch. With two outs, Cobello hit a long triple to right field, scoring Kleinschmidt. Cox was then hit in the helmet and had to leave the game. Heren popped out to the pitcher to end the second inning with the Hornets leading 9-0.
The River Rats scored their first run in the top of the third when a batter reached second base on an error by the third baseman. A two out single brought home the run for the Rats.
The Hornets countered by scoring a run in the bottom of the third when Alexander was hit by the pitch and took first base with two outs. Alexander scored when Kleinschmidt hit another mammoth double to left, picking up her fourth RBI of the game.
Junior Cody McPeek pinched hit for Shelton and drew a walk on four pitches. Junior Amanda Jedele then was sent in to pinch hit for Darmos and ended the inning hitting into a force out at third. It was 10-1 Saline at the end of three.
Huron scored their second run in the top of the fourth on a lead off triple and a one out single.
But again, the Hornets countered by scoring three more runs in the bottom of the fourth. Junior Isabella Stephenson was hit by the pitch with one out. Heren walked to put runners on first and second. Schwartzenberger cleared the bases with a massive double to left center. Schwartzenberger scored on a single to center by Alexander.
Pace gave up a leadoff single in the top of the fifth but then got the next three River Rat batters to make infield outs to preserve the 13-2 victory, called after five innings because of Saline’s 11-run lead.
Following the game, Saline Head Coach Alicia Seegert was very pleased with her team’s performance.
“We hit the ball well, had good base-running and played really good defensively.” When asked about Cox, Seegert said, “she has a stiff neck, probably from jerking her head so hard to get out of the way of the pitch. We think she will be OK.”
A big part of the lady Hornets’ stellar defensive play is due to the incredible play of catcher Kelsey Alexander in the top of the second. Twice in the inning, Alexander fired the ball to nail two different runners at third, to help end a bases loaded jam.
The win raises the Hornets’ record to 17-9 on the season. The team gets back into action on Wednesday afternoon when they will host the Dexter Dreadnuaghts at Hornet Stadium at 4 p.m.
Saline is scheduled to play a doubleheader against the Clinton Redskins on Thursday. Games are scheduled to start at 4 & 6 p.m. The lady Hornets will continue their district play when they take on the Ann Arbor Pioneers, Saturday at 10 a.m. The winner of that game will advance to the district championship game at 2 p.m.
SALINE POST THREE STARS:
1st Star: Abigail Kleinschmidt (2 runs scored, 3 hits, 4 RBIs, 1 walk)
2nd Star: Kelsey Alexander (3 runs scored, 1 hit, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 2 stolen bases & great D)
3rd Star: Danielle Cobello (1 run scored, 2 hits, 2 RBIs)