KENNETT SOFTBALL coach Peter Ames is surrounded by former players (l to r) Gredel Shaw and Nikki Wrobleski and current captains Vonde Saunders and Kaylin Samia after a ceremony honoring him for his 400th career win prior to the home opener last week. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
April 28, 2014CENTER CONWAY — The first matchup of the season between the Kennett and Kingswood softball teams began with the Eagles honoring longtime coach Peter Ames for his 400th win.
It continued with the Eagles getting their coach number 401.
Ames picked up the milestone win at Merrimack Valley in the first game of the season and prior to the first home game, which was played at Dick O'Brien Field at the Conway Recreation Department, current captains Kaylin Samia and Vonde Saunders and former players Gredel Shaw and Nikki Wrobleski presented the veteran coach with tokens of appreciation.
The Eagles then took care of business against their Carroll County rivals, winning the game by a 12-0 score in six innings.
"We were more aggressive and that's what we have to be," Ames said, comparing the win to his team's loss to Oyster River the previous week. "We have some kids who can hit and we got hitting throughout the lineup."
For Kingswood coach Mike Christy, the offensive struggles continued, as the Knights finished their third game without having put a run on the board this season.
"The mental focus is just not there," Christy said. "We're so much better than this. We're a good team that's not playing well."
Kingswood actually had chances in both the first and second inning against Kennett freshman Kaitlyn Janos, who was getting her first varsity start.
Morgan McCann and Keely Rodgers drew walks to open the game, but Janos got a fly bal to center, a strikeout and a foul out to first, on which Saunders made a nice play, getting her out of the inning.
The Knights also went with a freshman hurler, as Maddison Rabideau got the start in the circle and got some defensive help in the first. After a strikeout, a grounder to third produced the second out, though Abbi Bolduc made a nice scoop at first base to seal the out.
Kingswood put the first two runners on again in the top of the second. Casey Sargent worked a walk and Shelby Lindsay followed with a base hit, but a strikeout and a 5-4 double play on a bunt try ended the threat. Eagle third baseman Gwynn McGinley made a great snag on the pop up and doubled the runner off first to complete the double play.
Rabideau set the Eagles down in order in the bottom of the second and Janos pitched a strong top of the third before her team got her some run support.
Tori Eaton started the rally with a base hit and after a Rachel Samia sacrifice bunt and a ground out, Kaylin Samia drew a walk. Erin Milford reached on an error to plate one run and Saunders beat out an infield hit to plate another run. McGinley then reached on an error to make it 3-0 in favor of the Eagles.
After a scoreless fourth, Kennett added three more in the fifth inning. Milford had a bunt base hit and Saunders tripled her home. McGinley drew a walk and Morgan Colvard reached on an error to plate another run. Eaton followed with a base hit to make it 6-0.
Kennett closed out the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. Kaylin Samia started the inning by lining a shot to deep right field that tipped off the glove of Dani Fitzpatrick and rolled to the fence. She circled the bases for a 7-0 lead. Milford followed with a double and a Saunders base hit made it 8-0. McGinley then crushed a shot over the fence in left field for a two-run blast and a 10-0 lead. Colvard reached on an error, with Sydney Smith taking over on the bases and Janos followed with a base hit. Two outs later, a Jaeger base hit made it 11-0 and a Kaylin Samia plated the final run, bringing the game to a close.
Ames noted that after the loss at Oyster River, which featured 11 walks by his pitching staff, this was a welcome sight.
"It all comes down to if you don't walk people," Ames said. "A lot of times, things compound from that."
He noted it was great to see the entire lineup hit and singled out Eaton for a solid game at the plate and noted that everyone did their job.
"And the bottom line is, Katelyn pitched great," Ames continued. "There was a little bit of nerves in the first inning. After playing in eighth grade and going to varsity, there's always a little concern.
"But she mixed her pitches very well and she got ahead of everyone, after the first couple innings," Ames continued. "And we made some plays too."
Christy noted that the good defensive start his team has had in the field didn't continue in Conway.
"We've been very good defensively," he said. "But we threw the ball around, things we hadn't done up to this point."
He noted that the team executes the plays in practice, but has had trouble turning good practices into game situations.
"Fortunately, we have to jump right back on the bus," he said, noting the quick turnaround with two games in the next two days, which could allow the Knights to put this game behind them. "Hopefully that's the approach they take."
He pointed out that the girls are angry as the early-season struggles continue and he said he is hoping they find a way to channel that anger into strong performances on the field.
The Knights did get their first runs of the season the next day at John Stark, but dropped a 5-3 decision to the Generals. They got their first win of the season on Friday, April 25, beating Hanover by a 12-0 score.
Kennett also picked up a win on Friday, April 25, beating Plymouth by a 3-1 score.
The two county rivals met again after deadline Wednesday in Wolfeboro.
Kingswood will be in action on Friday, May 2, at Pembroke and at home on Wednesday, May 7, against St. Thomas, both at 4 p.m.
Kennett returns to action on Friday, May 2, at Coe-Brown and Monday, May 5, at White Mountains, both at 4 p.m.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org