Softball: Fast start helps Ottawa defeat Morris in I-8 action

Pirates scored four times in the first, pitcher Peyton Bryson tossed complete game five-hitter

Ottawa’s Kendall Lowery signals herself safe as she gets into 3rd base with a triple before the tag by Morris’s Karson Dransfield n the first inning Wednesday at Ottawa.

OTTAWA – Ottawa coach Adam Lewis and Morris coach Jen Bamonte admitted the first inning of games this season haven’t been as good as they would have liked to see from their respective softball teams.

While the trend continued for Morris, the Pirates flipped the script during Wednesday’s Interstate 8 Conference game at King Field by scoring four times in their first at-bat and eventually posted a 9-3 victory.

“We’ve done a lot of good things so far this season, but winning first innings has not been one of them,” Lewis said, his team improving to 12-6 overall and 2-2 in I-8 play. “We’ve had some games that we’ve cost ourselves the game right from the start, so the talk this week has been coming to the field with high energy and getting after it right from the jump.”

Ottawa starting and winning pitcher Peyton Bryson went the distance, scattering five hits, allowing one earned run, with no walks and four strikeouts.

Ottawa starting pitcher Peyton Bryson lets go with a pitch Wednesday against Morris at Ottawa.

“We’re not where we want to be yet overall, but pitching and defense wise we’re starting to close the gap from where we were at the beginning of the season,” Lewis said. “Those two aspects are catching up with how we’ve been offensively. We are doing a better job of making the adjustments we need to make earlier in games and not waiting until the third or fourth inning to change things up.”

Kendall Lowery led off the Pirates first inning with a triple to right off Morris starter Mylie Hughes (4 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 1K) and scored on a bunt by Hailey Larsen. Maura Condon then singled and scored on a double to center by Bobbi Snook. Piper Lewis followed with an RBI single, and she scored on a fielder’s choice grounder by Reese Purcell make it 4-0.

“First innings haven’t been very good for us either,” Bamonte said, her team now 7-7 and 1-4. “We made way too many errors today (four), not just physical errors but mental errors. You can’t expect to win games if you’re not going to play clean softball. But right now, our problem is that we are letting fielding mistakes hang around in our heads and then taking them to the plate. We are a younger team, but we have to learn how to let mistakes go and move on to the next play.

“We have to play with more confidence, that’s the main thing. I feel like physically we have a pretty good group of girls that can play the game pretty well. We just now have to get the mental approach going in the right direction. I feel like we are finding ways to beat ourselves right now.”

Morris got one run back in the third when Addy Hackett singled and eventually came around to score on an error.

Ottawa added two in the fourth with Lowery lining her second triple, scoring on an RBI grounder by Larsen before Condon smacked an RBI double. The Pirates scored three times in the fifth off Morris reliever Elaina Vidales (2 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K), the big hit a two-run bloop single to right by Condon.

Morris closed the scoring with two in the sixth on an error and RBI bunt single by Karson Dransfeldt.

Bryson threw 64 of her 86 pitches for strikes.

“It’s a knuckleball,” Bryson said of her most effective pitch on the day. “I’ve worked on three or four different change-up grips since I first started pitching, but I was never ever really confident or good with any of them. My pitching coach finally suggested the knuckleball approach, and it really works for me. It was a good pitch for me today, but I also felt like my spin was good and I did a pretty good job of hitting my spots.

“I also feel like us getting those four runs right off the bat really helped me relax. It’s always nice to pitch knowing you have a little breathing room for a mistake.”

Next up for the two teams, Morris hosts Gardner-South Wilmington on Thursday, while Ottawa travels to Oswego on Friday.

Morris Starting Pitcher Mylie Hughes lets go with a pitch Wednesday against Ottawa at Ottawa.
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