Early-season jitters was a factor on both sides as defending 4A softball champion D.H. Conley took the season opener 5-4 victory at Middle Creek on Tuesday in the season opener for both.
“We had some good moments on the offensive side and on the defensive side and the next thing you know we’re kicking the ball around or we’re making a bad baserunning decision,” D.H. Conley coach Wayne Deans said. “But then again it’s the first game of the season. ... You kind of expect those moments.”
Conley clean-up hitter Grace Cochran put the Vikings on the board first with an RBI double.
In the bottom of the first, Middle Creek picked up two runs on three hits as left fielder Tianna Langley started the Mustangs inning off with a leadoff triple. Soon after, Langley would score on a ground ball to first base.
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Shortstop Gianna Gravius picked up a single of her own and pitcher Devin Wallace drove in Gravius with an RBI single.
Middle Creek took a 2-1 lead and kept it until the Vikings struck again in the fifth inning.
Devin Wallace was rolling for the Mustangs after retiring nine batters in a row, but D.H. Conley left fielder Cameron Rogister led the inning off with a single and an error brought her home.
An over throw from the outfield gave the Vikings a 3-2 lead.
It was a pitching duel between Middle Creek’s Wallace and D.H. Conley’s Emily Kirby. Wallace recorded one earned run and had 10 strikeouts. Emily Kirby, who got out of a jam in the sixth inning, allowed two earned runs and also had eight strikeouts of her own.
In the top of the seventh, the Vikings added two more runs from a breakdown in the Mustangs’ defense and headed to the bottom of the seventh up 5-2.
Christina Mitten came in for the Mustangs with two outs and came through with a pinch-hit single. Langley then came up and reached on a throwing error, which allowed Mitten to score to make it 5-3 and moved Langley to third base.
A walk to Lily Morris gave the Mustangs runners on first and third, and then a botched ground ball at second brought in Langley. It was 5-4, but Kirby sealed it with a strikeout.
“Well we’ve talked all week about the little things, the throwing and catching and not letting other teams take advantage of us, and tonight that’s what got us,” Middle Creek coach Robbie Wray said. “We scheduled Conley for a reason, they’re a good measuring stick to see where we are this early in the season.”