MONMOUTH — One rough inning for Monmouth Academy proved to be the difference for Hall-Dale High School on Wednesday.
Three hits and three errors led to five runs in the top of the fourth inning and that proved to be the difference as the Bulldogs went on to score an 8-3 Mountain Valley Conference softball victory over the Mustangs.
Monmouth entered the game riding a three-game winning streak that included a 6-1 victory over Winthrop on Tuesday, but Wednesday too many errors — seven in all — helped contribute to the Mustangs’ downfall.
“Yesterday we had one good inning, today we had one bad inning,” Monmouth coach Dave Kaplan said. “It’s a game of extremes for us. We’re getting there. It’s a young team, we’re getting there. If we tighten up defensively, we’ll be more competitive but it’s the one inning syndrome; good or bad, that’s what we’re doing.”
Junior Olivia Maynard had a big day for Hall-Dale both at the plate and in the circle. The right-hander allowed just two earned runs on two hits while striking out four in seven innings, while offensively she finished 2-for-3 with a double, triple, two RBIs and two runs scored.
“She’s been seeing the ball really, really well as of late,” Hall-Dale coach Christen Lachapelle said. “She’s done really well. I think she’s focused in and she had a good game today.”
Junior Becki Bryant threw well for Monmouth despite suffering the loss, allowing five runs (two earned) on three hits and two walks while striking out four in 4 1/3 innings pitched.
Contrary to the final score, the game was very much a pitchers’ duel in the early going.
After Bryant set Hall-Dale down in order in the top of the first, Monmouth struck in the bottom half of the inning. Senior Kylie Kemp reached base on an error, and then proceeded to steal both second and third. After a strikeout from junior Caroline Bonenfant, senior Sabrina Beck grounded out to first but that allowed Kemp to score from third to make it 1-0 Mustangs.
The score remained as such through the next two innings with neither team really threatening to score, but in the top of the fourth, Hall-Dale exploded.
After striking out swinging her first time up, Maynard laced a one-out double to deep center field on a one-two count to start the rally.
“That was my pitch,” she said, “It was pretty much (down the) middle.”
Maynard scored on the very next pitch when junior Morgan Rush sent a single back up the middle, and then the miscues started to cost the Mustangs. Three straight Monmouth errors on balls put into play by sophomores Kayla Johnson, Emma Begin and Haley Houdlette led to two more runs.
Begin and Houdlette eventually came around to score on a groundout to first from junior Morgan Levasseur and single from senior Emily Maynard, respectively, to make it 5-1.
Monmouth nearly came back to tie it in the bottom of the fourth, but a series of key defensive plays kept the Bulldogs in front.
Beck drew a walk, junior Shannon Buzzell reached on a fielder’s choice and freshman Haley Fletcher was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but senior Krystin Kemp followed by lining out to the pitcher for the first out of the inning. Sophomore Mikayla Cameron then sharply hit a ground ball to Hall-Dale shortstop Becca Ackerson, who threw home in time to get the force out on Beck trying to score from third.
Bryant then came through just as the rally seemed as if it was ready to stall, however, and launched a double to the gap in left center. Buzzell and Fletcher each came around to score, but Cameron was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first to end the threat with the Bulldogs clinging to a 5-3 lead.
From there Olivia Maynard hit her groove and allowed just one baserunner and no hits in the final three innings.
In the top of the seventh, the pitcher gave herself some breathing room, sharply grounding what was ruled a fair ball down the left field line for a two-run triple.
“It was close,” Lachapelle said. “Let’s just say it was a generous call.”
Moments later Maynard scored on a pass ball to round out the game’s scoring.
Hall-Dale (4-2) will be off until Monday at 4:30 p.m. when it hosts St. Dominic (0-4), while Monmouth (3-2) will be back in action Friday at 4:30 p.m. when it travels to take on Spruce Mountain (3-2).
Evan Crawley——621-5640 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @Evan_Crawley