The off-season has been tough for the Garner softball team with two returning starters from last season suffering injuries and bad weather limiting the Trojans’ preparation for the season.
But it helps to have talent.
With senior Lauren Marbrey dominating in the pitcher’s circle, Garner took care of Cleveland Saturday afternoon 7-0 on perhaps the first day of pristine weather this season.
“This has been the toughest off-season of the 11 years that I’ve been coaching,” Garner coach Moe Barbour said. “As bad as the weather has been, we haven’t been able to practice much. We’re 3-0, but it’s not because we’ve practiced a lot. We’re basically just winning on talent right now.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
Marbrey was working on a no-hitter before the Rams’ Brittany Bucklin laced a single to right field with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
In all, Marbrey fanned 10 batters and allowed just the one hit to Bucklin in the complete game victory.
The Trojans held a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning when Marbrey hit a two-run homerun over the right field fence.
Brooke Kamphuis came through with a RBI double and Alisha Josie singled to drive in another run.
For the Rams (1-1), the off-season has been difficult as well for first-year head coach Samantha Coats.
“So with this weather, it’s been tough,” Coats said. “We haven’t been able to hit and it showed today as we couldn’t get the bats going.
“We’re definitely going to start hitting better. We’re strong defensively but we just haven’t had any practice time for hitting.”
Taylor Drayton put together a couple solid at bats only to be retired on a pair of long fly balls and Rebecca Straka reached base on a Garner fielding error but the Rams could never get into a groove at the plate.
Drayton allowed seven hits in her seven innings of work for Cleveland and battled to keep the Rams in the game with seven strikeouts of her own.
A lone run in the first inning resulted after Drayton’s first strikeout of the game hit the backstop and Bridgette Kirkland beat the throw to first base. Garner added two unearned runs in the third to complicate matters further for Cleveland.
With the off-season behind him, Barbour feels if his unit, which currently just has nine healthy players, can get healthy, the Trojans may have yet another successful season.
“I think we’ve got a good makeup as long as Lauren can stay healthy and I get my catcher (Courtney Barbour) back,” said Barbour. “My two freshmen (Libby Bynum and Kira Jackson) have stepped in. My older girls have done exactly like I figured they would and the younger girls have surprised me and I think that’s why we’re 3-0 right now.”