ENON — It’s never an easy task when you have to face one of the state’s top softball teams. Then lose a few members of your starting lineup, and the task gets even more difficult. Such was the situation for Rick Armstrong’s Greenon Knights on Wednesday.
Visiting Springfield Kenton Ridge (3-1, 1-1 Central Buckeye Conference, Kenton Division) claimed a solid 11-0 win.
If moral victories mattered, Greenon (1-1, 0-1 CBC Mad River Division) forced the 2013 Division II state runners up to play a full seven-inning game. The Cougars amassed a 31-3 record before falling 6-5 in the state title game to Licking Valley last season.
“We didn’t have everybody with us today,” said first-year Greenon coach Rick Armstrong. “My no. 3 hitter and third baseman were both sick, and so we we had to fill-in some spots in the lineup today. But I think they did a good job. Even though we were down two players, we never quit. We kept battling, we didn’t strikeout much and hung right in there. You’d rather not face a team like Ridge early on, but that’s how the schedule was made. What can you do?”
Ridge grabbed a 5-0 lead after two innings of play. They tagged on four more runs in their half of the fourth inning to go up 9-0, and needed just one run to run-rule the Knights in five innings, but Knights freshman pitcher Lexi Romine kept the Cougars from scoring until late in the game.
Romine kept Kenton Ridge scoreless in the fifth and sixth before the Cougars tagged her for two runs in their top half of the seventh. Romine fanned three Ridge batters, walked one, hit one, and then gave up three straight singles in the seventh.
“She did a nice job of mixing up her pitches against us,” said Kenton Ridge coach Sarah Schalnat. “Their team has improved over the last few years, and I think with coach Armstrong there, they’ll definitely improve some more. We lost a tough one to Tipp City (10-9, on Tuesday), but I think we loosened up a bit today. We played more relaxed today and it showed.”
After falling behind 5-0, Romine, senior first baseman Heather Wright, senior Marissa Brown, freshman Arian McNeil and sophomore Bri Kreger each reached base in the following innings, but they were unable to advance past second base.
Ridge will return to action at 5 p.m. today against Springfield Northwestern.
With a few rainouts and cold postponements already on its makeup schedule this season, Greenon will only have Sunday off from playing softball games for about two weeks, and the rest of this week will have the team logging up the mileage on the team buses.
“We play at Bellefontaine (today), then we’re at Houston (at 5:30 p.m.) on Friday. Then we’re just up the road at Springfield Catholic Central for a doubleheader,” Armstrong said. “And then, we play at Benjamin Logan on Monday! We’re driving all over the place for the next few days.”
After the Monday game in Bellefontaine, the Knights will play at home Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday against Ben Logan, Northwestern and Dayton Stebbins.