SYRACUSE – A first impression lasts a lifetime.
Well, the impression of the first inning won’t likely be talked about for year’s to come, but it did sway the momentum of the remaining six innings of the softball game played Tuesday night between Wawasee and Triton.
After Triton left the bases loaded in the first, Wawasee made its opportunities fruitful in the bottom half of the inning as the hosts rolled to a 6-1 victory in a non-conference make-up game from April.
Triton, after playing 11 innings Monday night at Bremen, loaded the bases after back-to-back singles from Lillie Berger and Mallorie Jennings followed by Krystal Sellers wearing a Kylie Norris pitch.
But the gritty Norris, who tossed a one-hitter Monday night against NorthWood, induced Brycelyn Garbison to ground into a one-two-three double play to end the threat.
The momentum that followed Wawasee had the middle of its order come through in a big way. Aly Anderson led off with a single, and after Garbison – Triton’s starting pitcher – got the next two batters out, left a fastball over the middle of the plate that Madi Anderson crushed into center for an RBI single. Paige Hlutke then doubled and Ashlynn Fisher brought Anderson and Hlutke home with a solid single to right.
What could have been 3-0 Triton was now 3-0 Wawasee.
“I thought Norris was decent from what we have seen,” said Triton head coach Steve McBride. “But being out of conference and that long game we had last night, the intensity just wasn’t there. We couldn’t get that key hit and it really stung us. We get a couple hits and who knows where this game goes.”
Added Wawasee head coach Hans Griepentrog, “That’s one thing about softball is that it’s a momentum sport. We started off slow, the infield was bad and not energetic. But then we got the double play and that gave us the spark we needed to pull it out.”
Norris would settle down after the shaky first inning, allowing just five more Triton hits. The only damage the Trojans were able to do came in the third, when Jenae Kreft struck out but reached base on a passed ball. Two batters later, Berger drove Kreft home on a single.
Otherwise, Norris was sharp. Fanning six and working out of the first, Norris has worked back-to-back complete games, much to the delight of Griepentrog.
“Norris was feeling good and threw well yesterday and so we decided to let her go again today,” Griepentrog said. “We had faith Norris would do well, so we put her in there.”
Wawasee tacked on insurance runs in the second on an Aly Anderson RBI single, then two more in the third when Madi Anderson jacked a solo homer to center, followed by another Hlutke double that had pinch runner Cristina DeLaFuente come home on a Triton throwing error.
Wawasee (7-10) finished with 12 hits, led by the thunder from the two Andersons and pair of doubles from Hlutke. Kylee Rostochak and Stacie Carr also had doubles for the Lady Warriors, which will face Northern Lakes Conference juggernaut Northridge at home Wednesday night. The free passes from the 14-1 Raiders likely won’t be available.
“We just need to keep doing what we are doing and hope for no mistakes,” Griepentrog said of facing Northridge. “If we can continue to put the ball in play, we’ve had about 20 hits in the past two days, that should carry us through. And we have to take advantage of any mistakes they might make.”
Triton (12-7) will continue its whirlwind schedule. After playing five games last week, the Trojans are in the middle of seven games in six days this week. LaVille is next up on the schedule Wednesday, followed by two games with Jimtown Friday and a doubleheader on Saturday.
Having luxuries like six innings from Garbison will help the Trojan mania as Mallorie Jennings will need nights off. Especially if nights are having Jennings work 11 innings of 18-strikeout ball during conference play.
“Eh, we don’t need any rest, this is softball,” laughed McBride, then shifting to a more realistic approach. “We have another conference game tomorrow and we’re searching for some things for the sectional. We’re looking to see if we can get some kids to hit down the roster. We didn’t sacrifice much here since we have so many games this week.
“Brycelyn gave up three runs in the first inning then really didn’t give up much after that, and we are going to need that from her,” McBride continued. “She hasn’t pitched much, but she will with seven games in a week like we have.”