MARION CENTER 7, HOMER-CENTER 2 -- Stingers win first meeting, but Wildcats show fight in defeat
MARION CENTER — Homer-Center coach Randy Thomas couldn’t wait for his team to get a crack at unbeaten Marion Center.
And even though his Wildcats came up short of handing the Stingers their first loss Monday, they won’t have to wait long for another shot at it.
Marion Center took the first game, 7-2, and is scheduled to play at Homer-Center today in a pair of back-to-back Heritage Conference softball games.
“We’re excited,” Marion Center’s Karlie Snyder said. “I know they’re going to be ready for us, and we’re going to be just as ready for them. It’s going to be another great game.”
“Sometimes, when you see those back-to-back games on a schedule, you cringe a little bit on both sides,” Thomas said. “You’d like to get some work in in between, but it’s good to see good pitching two days in a row. Hopefully you learn from day to day and get better.”
Monday afternoon’s game was a makeup of a game postponed one week earlier due to rain. The weather was ideal at Marion Center Community Park on Monday, and both teams are hoping to get on the diamond with some regularity over the final few weeks of the season. Marion Center has played six games so far this season, and Homer-Center (2-3) has played five.
“Things are working out fine for us so far, but hopefully we can put together a string where we can play some games,” Marion Center coach Ed Peterson said. “There are things that we need to work on, and those things will come once we start playing a little more.”
The Stingers took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when Courtney McMahan walked, Snyder laid down a bunt single, and Megan Risinger hit a two-run single to center. Katie Dotts followed with an RBI double.
McMahan scored Marion Center’s fourth run in the third inning. She singled, stole second and third and scored on Risinger’s groundout.
“We knew we had to come out and have more hits and score more runs than them to win this game today,” Snyder said. “Homer always puts up a tough fight. They usually are the ones that give us a great game. We just tried to stay confident because that’s what you have to do.”
Homer-Center’s Abby Yancy reached base in the fourth inning on an error and advanced to third on Abby Plowcha’s single. Devan Townley then blasted an RBI double to right field for the Wildcats’ first run. They added another in the sixth inning when Morgan Buggey’s grounder scored Breonna Ruffner to cut their deficit to 4-2.
“We weren’t nervous,” Snyder said. “Even though they came back a little, we stayed on our game and never let it get under our skin. We know we have an ace pitcher and a good defense. When we do get rattled, we just have to calm down and get the bats back out, which is what we did.”
“When they cut into our lead, we got them in a huddle and told them that four runs isn’t enough,” Peterson said. “We needed to get on base, and the girls came through. We want this thing to keep going.”
The Stingers plated three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to extend their lead to 7-2. Morgan Tonkin reached on a fielder’s choice and scored on an error. Samantha Frye and Olivia Riley each got on base on an error, and Laken Ryen brought them both home with a double to the fence.
“She’s a wonderful addition to our team,” Peterson said of Ryen, a freshman. “She has played a lot of travel ball in the summers, and she has a beautiful swing. With her and Megan (Risinger), we have a great 1-2 punch. I was batting her third, but I moved her up to maybe get her another at-bat per game and get her on base.”
The two teams combined for 11 errors, but the pitching by both teams was solid.
Risinger struck out eight and walked none, and Plowcha struck out three and walked one in complete-game efforts.
“She only walked the second batter of the game, and it was a four-pitch walk,” Thomas said of Plowcha. “She pitched really well. She pitched her game today, and she worked it in and down. When she’s on her game, she throws well, and she did a great job today.
“On paper, we played a solid game. We had some mistakes here and there, but without them, it’s a totally different game. We had some opportunities to score some girls, and we didn’t get it done. That’s only our fifth game of the year, and we’re going to get better.”
Thomas just hopes the Wildcats are better today than they were yesterday.
“We always say that if we can just make the plays we’re supposed to make, then we’re going to win a lot of games,” he said. “I’m encouraged. We’re happy. We have the potential to do some good stuff this year. I saw a lot of things coming together tonight, and I’m proud of them. We’ll take another crack at it tomorrow.”