Close losses don’t ruin first day
Technically, the De Soto softball team had a worse start than it did a season ago.
The Wildcats started that four-win campaign off by splitting a double header with Wellsville, taking the second game with a flurry of late-game heroics.
The Cats couldn't muster any such fireworks this time and its seventh-inning rallies both fell short.
Technically, it was all better last year. A glance at coach Sissy Fletchers beaming smile proved there was more to take from Monday's season-opening games than two losses, however.
De Soto found some powerful hitters, relied on consistent pitching and backed it all up with a much improved defense. It wasn't good enough to beat Wellsville -- the Eagles took the first game 3-2 and the second 5-1 -- but it was plenty to leave Fletcher inspired.
"For the first game, I'm proud of their hitting and defense. We were in the games with chances to win both times and that's all we can ask for," Fletcher said. "We fell a little short, but either way the kids felt good about it."
The Wildcats actually took leads in both games, both thanks to big hits by Katie Williams.
The freshman opened her varsity career by belting a long double in the fifth inning in her second at-bat. She advanced to third on a throwing error and slide into home after an Ashley Frieling RBI single.
"Coach Fletcher asked me if I was nervous and told me to hit it between short and third," Williams said. "It ended up between center and left and I felt pretty good."
Wellsville finally got on the board in the first game by scoring three runs in the top of the sixth, and the Cats couldn't respond. Meagan Bliss did manage to score in the seventh and a Kira Gonzalez walk loaded the bases.
It appeared De Soto might tie the game when Jessica Pennington hammered a two-out pitch into the outfield. It was caught, however and De Soto fell, 3-2.
Williams again got things started in the second game, ripping another single into center field. This one went even further than the first, sailing over the center fielder's head and plopping just short of the fence.
Bliss picked up an RBI with a single with the next at bat.
Wellsville scored one in third inning to tie the game, took the lead with a run in the fifth and put it away with three in the sixth.