Saline’s varsity softball team defeated Adrian, 9-4, to win its home opener at Saline High School Wednesday.
After Saline built at early 4-0 lead, Adrian rallied back to get within one, at 5-4, before Saline pulled away with four runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Alex Pace was solid, pitching the complete game and giving up three earned runs on seven hits and five walks. She struck out nine.
Kelsey Alexander hit two doubles and scored three runs, Isabella Darmos hit two doubles and drove in two runs, and Emma Schwarzenberger and Lindsay Rittenhouse each had three hits. Rittenhouse scored three runs Katie Bauer also had an RBI single and Ashley Heren drove in a run.
Saline went to work right away in the bottom of the first. Alexander tripled with a line drive to right-centerfield. She scored on a sacrifice fly by Heren. Saline added three runs with a two-out rally in the second. Slap-hitting Rittenhouse used her speed to beat a grounder to short. She scored on Alexander’s second triple, a long fly ball to center. Heren was hit by a pitch. Isabella Darmos doubled to left to score both of them.
Adrian got one back in the third with two doubles and a single. In the fifth, Adrian’s lead-off hitter reached on an error. She scored on a double, making it 4-2. Saline got that run back in the bottom of the fourth. The speedy Rittenhouse led with an infield hit and took second on an error. She scored on a two-out double to center by Darmos. Saline led 5-2. Adrian continued to battle back, scoring two runs in the top of the fifth with two singles, a double and sacrifice fly.
The game seemed like it might be getting away from the Hornets. Pace walked the lead-off hitter in the top of the sixth. She had a 3-0 count on the next better.
“(Coach) Alicia Seegert gave me that look and I was like, ‘Alex, you better do something = to get it together or you’re out to be pulled,’” Pace said. “I just realized that, you train for this, you know what to do, don’t worry about, throw your hardest, and we got this.”
Pace battled back to strike that hitter out and then struck out the next one, too. The next batter grounded to Bauer at short. Pace had righted the ship.
The offense seemed to pick up on that.
In the bottom of the inning, Rittenhouse reached on another infield single. Alexander walked. Darmos reached on a controversial call. Brooke Bauer singled up the middle to score two. Schwarzenberger singled to load the bases again. Katie Bauer singled up the middle to score two.
Winning the home opener was exciting for the Hornets.
“It’s real exciting,” Alexander said. “It gives us a lot of confidence going forward. We have a lot of younger players so (confidence is important).”
The Saline Post 3 Stars:
1. Alex Pace - Battling back from the 3-0 count in the top of the sixth might have saved this game and allowed Saline to have its big inning in the bottom of the sixth. Pace seems to be throwing with more velocity this year.
2. Kelsey Alexander -- The junior center fielder got things started for Saline with triples in the first and second. She also scored a run in the sixth. She played very well in centerfield, too, showing a strong arm that Adrian learned not to run on.
3. Brooke Bauer - Isabella Darmos, Lindsay Rittenhouse and Emma Schwartzenberger deserve mention, but Bauer had the big hit in the sixth that gave Saline breathing room. The Saline senior also played flawlessly at short.