Garner used an explosive six-run second inning to set the tone early and coast to a 9-0 win over 4A Greater News River conference foe Knightdale, Thursday in softball.
The senior-heavy Trojans were backed by the strong pitching performance of Lauren Marbrey who recorded 12 strikeouts and only one walk. Marbrey out-dueled her counterpart, freshman Jena Massing, who allowed eight runs, but only three earned over six innings.
“(Garner) jumped on us early,” said Knightdale coach Kenny Watkins. “We’re a young team and got down on ourselves a bit.”
Watkins reminded his team in the post-game huddle that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. They have seven innings to work with and to keep battling.
Garner (6-2, 2-1) used some timely hitting to take advantage of some defensive miscues by the Knights in the second inning.
Marbery reach on an infield error, and Bridgette Kirkland followed with a single. Massing got the next batter to fly out before surrendering a base hit to Kira Jackson to load the bases.
Watkins called time out to talk with Massing and his infield to settle them down, but it was for naught, as the next batter, Libby Bynum, stroked a three-run triple into right field.
Another infield error allowed Cheyenne Champion to reach and a passed ball scored Bynum. Brooke Kamphuis followed with a single to put runners on first and third. Massing induced an RBI-ground out from Kelsey Bryan, before Alisha Josie singled home Kamphuis to cap the scoring for the inning. Massing would strike out Marbrey to end the inning.
“She did well and was throwing strikes,” Watkins said of Massing. “Then she started overthrowing and needed to have trust in her infield and outfield,” Watkins added.
Kirkland would start the top of the third inning by reaching on an infield error and moving to third on a passed ball and a wild pitch. Bissett’s ground out to Massing would score Kirkland to make it 7-0.
Afterwards Massing settled down and Knightdale (3-7, 1-4) kept the Trojans in check.
The Knights’ best opportunity to score was in the bottom of the fifth when Sarah Woodard and Erica Edwards led off with back-to-back singles. However, Marbrey struck out the next two batters before getting Josie Sargent to fly out to end the inning.
Garner struck one last time in the seventh inning. Massing started the inning but gave up a lead-off walk to Bryan. Then after a wild pitch to Josie, Watkins lifted Massing for Peyton Pollard. Josie jumped on Pollard’s offering, stroking a double to left field to score Bryan. Marbrey followed with an RBI single to make it 9-0, before Pollard got three ground outs to end the inning.
Bynum, a freshman, pitched a 1-2-3 seventh for Garner to close out the game.
Despite the loss, Watkins still saw some resolve in his team.
“We kept battling. We played hard and didn’t throw in the towel,” Watkins said. “I’ll be able to sleep easy tonight.”