Two young softball teams each with five sophomore starters met in their Southwest Athletic Conference opener, but only Panther Creek’s fledgling lineup played liked veterans.
The Catamounts’ bats came alive following a shutout loss two days ago to post a 13-2 victory over Athens Drive on a drizzly Friday afternoon at the Jaguars’ field.
“We do have a lot of underclassmen with five sophomores and two freshmen (starters), but we have some great upperclassmen,” said sophomore starting pitcher Cassidy Somers. “The upperclassmen help us get ready and today it all clicked.”
Panther Creek improved to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in conference play, while Athens Drive dropped to 0-3 and 0-1.
“We are a young team, but we’ve got to do a better job,” Athens Drive first-year coach Mike Van Horn said. “The girls played with heart, but we lost a little bit of focus. We’re young, but we’re better than what we showed today.”
Somers scattered seven hits with six strikeouts and only one walk. That runner was erased on a caught stealing throw from sophomore catcher Rachel Johnson to sophomore shortstop Sarah Aukamp.
Somers, who bats No. 9, also hit a home run over the left-field fence to lead off the fifth inning for a 9-1 lead.
“The whole game was rewarding,” said Somers when asked to compare her day on the mound and the plate. “We played together as a team. I’d like to thank my catcher (Johnson) for calling a great game. She knew what was working. We had a nod when we were excited or ready for something. She knows when to come out and talk to me.”
Asked about batting ninth but displaying power to hit a home run, Somers had no complaints.
“Well, it was my first home run ever,” she said. “Ever, ever.”
Johnson also hit a home run over the left-field fence when she connected for a two-out, two-run blast in the seventh. Her round-tripper brought home Aukamp after she doubled off the left-field fence.
Johnson was 1 of 4 with two runs and two RBIs, Aukamp 3 of 5 with two runs and two RBIs, Somers 1 of 2 with two runs and one RBI and third baseman CiCi Justice was 2 of 5 with two runs scored.
“That was a lot of fun,” Panther Creek coach Bryan Comer said. “We didn’t play very well in our last game and didn’t hit well, but the girls came out swinging and were aggressive on the base paths. We worked hard in practice and it carried over.”
Athens Drive’s Melanie Darges scored in the fourth when she doubled and came home on an error. The Jaguars added a run in the sixth when Bianca Van Dyk singled and Eva Vannoy doubled to score Van Dyk.
“We did show some signs and some girls did hit the ball hard,” Van Horn said.