WALES — In the first week of the season, softball games are often a case of who’s ready and who’s not. Friday morning’s contest between Oak Hill and visiting Hall-Dale was more like a late-season contest — a series of little things determining the winner.

Hall-Dale had a few more hits, and Oak Hill made a couple more errors. That was pretty much all it took for Hall-Dale to come away with a 6-3 victory in the Mountain Valley Conference season opener for both teams.

“For the first game, I thought it was pretty good,” first-year Hall-Dale coach Steve Acedo said. “We played solid defense, we got good pitching today, made contact with the ball. For the first game, I thought we did pretty well.”

“We had four hits,” Oak Hill coach Allyson Collins added. “I was hoping for a little more. But not too many strikeouts, and we hit the ball hard, just at people. Really, it was errors that killed us.”

Olivia Maynard pitched the first six innings for Hall-Dale and struck out four. Hard-throwing Becca Ackerson, who played the first six innings at second base, pitched the seventh inning and struck out two of the three batters she faced for the save.

“They could be No. 1 pitchers on their own at any school,” Acedo said.

Hall-Dale took the lead in the top of the second inning. The Bulldogs had two runners on after a single by Emma Begin and a walk to Haley Houdlette when No. 8 batter Gabby Brown stepped in from the left side with two out. Brown pulled a pitch over the first-base bag and down the line for a triple and two runs.

“I just had to relax, because there was a lot of nerves going through my body, first game of the season,” Brown said. “When I hit it, I didn’t even feel like I hit it. At first, I thought I had missed it, because it was just so beautifully hit. I was like, ‘Oh, the first baseman’s probably just going to get it, and I’m going to get out, ’cause I’m slow.’

“Then it just kept going and I was like, ‘Yes! I can do this!’ All I heard was my coach saying, ‘Go to three! Go to three!’ So I just booked it. I didn’t even look.”

Oak Hill charged back with three runs in the bottom of the third inning. Hannah Nadeau singled and Sara Noel walked, then Sadie Goulet ripped a triple to the fence in right-center. Goulet scored on a groundout by Jamie Prue for a 3-2 lead.

The Bulldogs tied it up with an unearned run in the fourth, but Oak Hill had a great chance to regain the lead in the bottom of the fifth. Right fielder Iris Abbott fell behind 0-2, then worked the count to 3-2 before crushing a triple to deep left on the 11th pitch of the at bat. The Raiders tried to get Abbott home with a bunt, but Maynard got back in the dugout with a strikeout and a groundout.

“That was a killer at bat,” Collins said. “She must have seen, what, 10-plus pitches? She knocked that triple almost to the fence, and we just couldn’t get her in. We’ve got to capitalize on that.”

The Hall-Dale batters did not strike out on the day, and all that contact paid off in the final two innings. In the sixth, Morgan Rush was on second when Kayla Johnson beat out an infield single. The throw got away, and Rush scored just ahead of a terrific throw from Abbott. With two down, Brown hit a popup that fell in the triangle in short center field for a 5-3 lead.

In the seventh, Ackerson led off with a double, raced to third on a foulout to first, and scored on a sacrifice fly.

“This year, we’ve been really working on making contact, putting the ball in play, and make the defense work,” Acedo said. “For the first game, I thought they did a pretty good job.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo


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