MADISON — It used to be easier to rattle Madison pitcher Emily McKenney. It used to be easier to score some runs on her, too.
On Monday afternoon, Mt. Abram had two good chances to increase McKenney’s stress level. In the top of the first inning, Mt. Abram had two on with one out, but didn’t score. In the fifth, the Roadrunners had runners at second and third with one out, but again, couldn’t add to their total.
Those outs were the key ones and McKenney finished with a three-hitter, 13 strikeouts and a 5-1 Mountain Valley Conference softball victory.
“In years past, I’d tend to get really worked up about things,” McKenney said with a laugh. “I’m really working on it this year, to stay calm, and I know I’ve got a good, strong team behind me. So I try to stay relaxed and just keep doing what I do.”
Madison is 9-0 while Mt. Abram is 3-4. Still, this wasn’t a mismatch. The visiting Roadrunners threatened in the first inning when Jenie Rowland singled and Taylor Jordan reached on an error, but McKenney worked her way out of the inning with a strikeout and a flyout.
“We put one across there in the first inning, I think it’s a different ballgame,” Mt. Abram coach Marc Keller said.
Madison picked up an unearned run in the first inning, then suddenly struck with two out in the third. With Kayla Booker on second, Sierra LeBlanc hit a deep drive that one-hopped the center field fence for a double. McKenney was hit by a pitch and Erika Parker singled to right, with LeBlanc scoring ahead of a late relay home. Freshman Aly LeBlanc added her first of two RBIs with a single up the middle, making it 4-0.
That was the only inning the Bulldogs really got to Jordan, who pitched a fine game for Mt. Abram and was helped by the marvelous defense of first baseman Alix Howard. Madison finished with eight hits, but only LeBlanc’s went for extra bases.
“We’ve got to hit the ball a little bit better, but I thought she pitched very well,” Madison coach Al Veneziano said.
Mt. Abram made its move in the fifth with the bottom of the order up, as Lilli Taylor walked and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, and Serena Lariviere beat out an infield single. Taylor Henderson reached on an error and Taylor scored, making it 4-1. After Henderson stole second, Mt. Abram had two chances to make it a 4-3 game with a long single, but McKenney struck out both batters.
“She was throwing change-ups and she was moving the ball around the plate,” Veneziano said. “I thought she did a great job.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243