MONMOUTH — One got the sense after the first three innings of Saturday’s softball game between Hall-Dale and Monmouth that someone was on the verge of breaking through for a big inning, and whoever did draw first blood would be doing a service for their pitcher’s nervous system.

Hannah Anderson’s two-run home run sparked a six-run fourth inning and junior pitcher Katie Canning settled in after that and tossed a four-hit shutout as Monmouth handed Hall-Dale its first loss of the season, 6-0, on Saturday.

The Mustangs got back to .500 after losing two of their first three games of the season.

“We’ve got a very, very young team and we’ve had a lot of kids gone on trips,” Monmouth coach Dave Kaplan said. “We’re finally coming back together as a team. We’ve only had one team practice on this field.”

Hall-Dale dropped to 3-1 despite having several chances to seize an early lead. The Bulldogs stranded runners at second and third in the first and single runners at second, third and third in each of the next three innings.

“We had runners in scoring position the first four innings and we just didn’t execute,” Hall-Dale coach Steve Acedo said. “We’ve been hitting the ball pretty good this year and today we just didn’t get the bat on the ball. (Canning) wasn’t overpowering but she had a good curve ball going. When they hit it they tried to pull it instead of just sticking it to the right side.”

Hall-Dale pitcher Rebecca Ackerson proved almost equally frustrating to Monmouth hitters through the first three innings, stranding a runner at second in each frame.

The dam finally burst in the fourth. After Canning led off the inning with a single and Shannon Buzzell bunted pinch runner Emily Chasse to second, Anderson, a freshman catcher, slugged a 1-0 pitch over the fence in left-center to make it 2-0.

“I was really nervous to go up to bat because she’s a really good pitcher. When I hit it, I just got so happy. Everyone was waiting for me and I couldn’t wait to cross (home) plate,” Anderson said.

“It really did relax our team. They all loosened up after that,” Kaplan said. “You saw all of the bats start to swing after that.”

The Mustangs did most of their damage in the inning with two out. A single and a hit batter set up an RBI single by Tia Day (two hits). Haley Fletcher followed with a soft fly that dropped in behind the first baseman to make it 4-0. After a walk loaded the bases, Canning ripped her second single of the inning to drive in the last two runs.

Canning, who struck out eight and walked two, stranded another runner at second base in the fifth and went on to retire the final seven Hall-Dale hitters.

“I just threw my different pitches. My curve ball was working well,” Canning said.

“When the going got tough, she got tough,” Kaplan said. “Her curve ball was a very deadly pitch today. She had it working real well, so we were going to it a lot.”

Olivia Maynard led the Bulldogs offensively with a double. Eva Shepherd, Morgan Rush and Gabby Brown each had a single.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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