Heritage hosted Eastside in what was the 2015 softball season opener for both teams. The Lady Patriots scored six runs in the sixth inning to run-rule the Lady Eagles 9-0 in what was a well played game on both sides up until the final inning.
"We've had a good summer. These girls have been looking forward to the beginning of the season, playing at home. We played our scrimmage yesterday (Tuesday) and we came out a little flat. I think, mentally they knew it was a scrimmage. Today (Wednesday) they brought their A-game," Jason McBay, Heritage head coach, said.
Knowing that if her team would have made plays. Heather Wood, Eastside's head coach, was not as jovial after the game.
"I'm very disappointed," Wood, said. "I felt like they gave us a lot of opportunities to make plays, get out, keep them off the bases and we didn't execute on those plays - very disappointing. I feel like we don't execute what we practice and that's frustrating. I think we get rattled easily, so that's definitely things that we gotta continue work through."
Eastside's bats were pretty silent the entire game, which might be attributed to rust or first game jitters, but also has a lot to do with Heritage's stellar pitcher Kamryn Toney. Heritage used that patented Heritage small ball attack and it flustered the Lady Eagles on defense throughout the game. Eastside was forced into a number of errors by Heritage's ability to bunt the ball so well, especially in the sixth inning.
"Kam did a great job in the circle, we played good defense behind her. Kind of hit a lull in the middle there, but that last inning that's textbook Heritage softball right there," McBay said. "That's what we like to do, put pressure on our opponents and all that. They got a good club I think they're definitely gonna be a playoff team and finish top two, top three in their region so it's a good team to get a good win against."
Toney was stellar in the circle, as she retired the side to begin the game. The Lady Patriots turned that into two runs. Morgan White blasted a shot to left for a double and was able to score when Addy Allegretti came right behind her with an RBI double of her own. An error by Eastside's Catlin Ray gave Claire Williams a base and Williams would eventually score to give Heritage a 2-0 lead heading into the second.
The Lady Pats scored again in the second inning for a 3-0 lead, while the Lady Eagles weren't able to record their first hit until the fifth inning when Ashleigh Williams dropped a blooper down the first baseline. It was for not, as the inning ended with a pop out after Haley Yates walked.
Eastside didn't get much going in the sixth, other than a double to left by Ray. Heritage laid down about four bunts in the sixth inning on its way to scoring six runs and ending the game an inning early, only one bunt resulted in an out while the others led to runs or runners getting on base.
"If I had it my way we would come out and swing it every single time and we've got the hitters that can do that at times, but when you have something to fall back on when you're able to get bunts down and put pressure on the defense, it just makes you so versatile and the defense gets on their heels and they don't know what's coming at them," McBay said. "That just comes from hard work. We got a lot to work on. We didn't really execute early in the game on the bunts, made some base running mistakes and all that. Overall, I'm very pleased with this."
"I think playing last night helped that. We made some very young, jitterbug, butterflies in the stomach mistakes last night even though it was a scrimmage game against a good opponent in Grayson," he added. To be able to come back in one day and have a short memory like it's a new day, I think it helped us out."
Wood credited the Lady pats for executing their short game, but said her team could have been more defensively sound in defending those bunts. As for the offense, Wood felt the team was consistent only in the mistakes they made.
"We need to work on our quality at-bats," she said. "I feel like we continued to make the same mistakes at the plate once we went through a couple times, so overall I am disappointed with our mental approach at the plate and the quality at-bats we had at the plate."
Molly Moon, the Lady Eagles' pitcher, did well said Wood, but the defense and offense didn't help her out.
"I hope this is a good learning experience for them. Again, just making sure whatever it is we're working on in practice we're executing it in games," Wood said. "Maybe it is a humbling experience for these girls. Having six seniors too, maybe this will be something we can grow from and learn from at least to get us ready for region play."