A night after a potent offensive showing led to a non-conference win, the Clayton softball team hosted Knightdale in its Greater Neuse River Conference home opener looking to continue brandishing formidable lumber.
The hits did indeed keep on coming for the Comets as they dispatched of the Knights 16-1.
Taeya Moloney was 3-for-4 at the plate with a pair of runs batted in and Kortnie Blanchard, Kayla Marshburn and Mindy North all had two-hit games as Clayton looked dangerous from the top to the bottom of its lineup.
It was the fourth time in the team’s first handful of games this season that Clayton posted at least 10 runs.
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“Up and down the line, they’re hitting well,” said Clayton coach Britney Kudlawiec, who was pleased with the results after continuing to tinker with the lineup in the early stages of the season. “They’re seeing the ball well and they’re adjusting to pitching changes well.”
Despite conceding 12 Clayton hits, Knightdale’s cause was hindered by some self-inflicted mistakes. The Knights committed six errors that were central to the Comets’ big innings, including a nine-run fourth that helped end the night early due to the 10-run mercy rule.
“That’s what happens most times, it just turns into contagious errors,” said Knightdale first-year coach Clifton Davis. “We’ve only had maybe one solid practice with all of this snow and rain. They’ve got a tough team but we’ve just got to work on our fundamentals. Practice makes permanent.”
The Knights (1-3 overall, 0-2 GNRC) jumped out on top early thanks to an Erica Edwards RBI single that scored sophomore Taylor Rabitz, who had reached base earlier in the top of the opening frame with a walk.
That, however, would be the only hit that the Knights would register in the five-inning contest. As the Comets (4-1, 2-0) began finding holes and taking advantage of Knightdale miscues to quickly build a sizable advantage, Clayton’s Hannah Ryan silenced the bats of the visitors.
“We started out strong,” Davis said. “It seems like every time we start out strong and keep the score the tight, then it starts with just one error, turns into a blooper hit here or there and the little mental things … we’ve just got to work on the mental issues.”
As for Ryan, there were little issues all night as the sophomore hurler earned her second win in as many starts.
After allowing the lone run in the first inning, Ryan settled in and retired eight of the next nine batters with the lone exception being Cassie Tyson, who reached base on a catcher’s interference call.
“Coming in to the first home conference game, I wanted to give her a shot out here,” Kudlawiec said of Ryan. “She looked awesome. She’s throwing hard, she’s hitting her spots – she’s strong.”
Ryan finished with nine strikeouts to just two walks.