Mustangs Fall to East Montgomery in Softball
Many times in the game of softball, the outcome depends on a team taking advantage of their scoring opportunities.
That was the case for the North Moore girls’ softball team when it traveled to Yadkin Valley Conference leader East Montgomery Tuesday.
The Lady Mustangs on two different occasions had runners in scoring position with no outs and couldn’t plate any runs. The host Lady Eagles were able to come up with the needed outs and held off a late North Moore charge for a 6-5 victory.
The loss drops the Mustangs to 8-4 in league play and 13-6 overall while the Eagles remain undefeated in conference action with an 11-0 mark and 15-2 overall. East has pretty much wrapped up the regular-season championship while North Moore is currently battling Chatham Central and South Stanly for second place.
The Mustangs host South Stanly Thursday and West Montgomery Friday with the outcome of both games playing a big part in the league’s final regular-season standings. Both games are scheduled to start at 6 p.m.
Ashley Davis started for the Mustangs at pitcher, going six innings, giving up nine hits, one walk and striking out three batters. Meghan Johnson picked up the victory for the Eagles, pitching seven innings, striking out three batters while giving up 11 hits.
The Mustangs’ first missed scoring opportunity came in the top of the third inning when the first three batters reached base, loading the bases with no outs. Holly Martindale led off the inning with a walk, followed by Holly Green reaching on an error. Gwen Steslicke loaded the bases with a single into left field. The next batter hit a fly ball to the pitcher. Jessie Sheffield reached on a fielder’s choice and the batter struck out, leaving the Mustangs empty handed.
“We didn’t execute when we loaded the bases,” said North Moore coach Sammy McNeill. “With the bases loaded and your number two, three and four batters coming to the plate, you need to score. If you don’t against a good team like East, they will make you pay. You have to score in those situations.”
And the Eagles made North Moore pay for the lack of runs in the bottom half of the frame, scoring four runs. East had four straight hits, with Johnson leading off with a double, followed by singles by Payton Harrell, Delana Hinson and Maddie Crisco. Hinson’s single drove in a pair of runs while Crisco and Megan Sheffield drove in one run each, for the 4-0 lead.
North Moore finally got on the scoreboard in the top of the fifth inning when Green led off with a blooper into shallow center field, followed by Steslicke reaching base on an error. Heather Dunmyer drove in the first run on a single down the right field line and the second run scored on an RBI-single down the left-field line by Sheffield. Sheffield moved to second base on the throw to the plate trying to tag Steslicke.
Trailing 4-2, the Mustangs had runners on first and second bases with no outs. The next batter struck out and the next batter tried to bunt, but flied out to the first baseman for a double play, ending another scoring opportunity for the Mustangs.
The Eagles added one run each in the fifth and sixth innings, taking advantage of Mustang errors, putting the home team up 6-2 with the Mustangs going into their final at-bat.
The Mustangs rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh inning, with Steslicke getting the rally started when she beat out an infield hit. Dunmyer followed with a short fly ball into center field. After a fly-out for the first out, Julie Williams delivered an RBI-single into left field.
Serra Carmines came in to run for Williams, the team’s catcher. The next batter struck out, followed by Kasi Martin loading the bases with a walk. Andrea Brower drove in a pair of runs with a single into deep center field, leaving runners at first and second bases with two outs. But the rally came up short when the next batter grounded out to the Eagles’ shortstop.
“The key to the game was the fifth and sixth innings when we let them score a couple of runs on errors,” said McNeill. “We don’t make those errors and we would be up 5-4 and East batting. Good teams find a way to win and they’re a good team.
“I’m real excited about the way we’ve been playing the past couple of weeks. We’ve lost some close games to some good teams. We’ve gotten a little bit better each game. It’s important to be playing well right now because of the playoffs — that’s what’s important, the playoffs.”
Dunmyer finished the game with three singles and an RBI while Brower had a double, a single and two RBIs. Steslicke added two singles with Sheffield, Williams, Martindale and Green finishing with one single each. Sheffield and Williams had one RBI each.
Samantha Stewart was the Eagles’ top batter with a pair of doubles while Johnson had a double and a single. Harrell added a pair of singles with Lindsey Dunn, Hinson and Crisco having one single each. Hinson finished with two RBIs and Crisco drove in one run.
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