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MENTOR—A scrimmage is designed for players to experience the intensity of a game-like situation without the pressures of winning or losing.

Mentor’s softball team has now, on back-to-back occasions, proven it’s ready for the challenge of the grueling Greater Cleveland Conference. The Cardinals opened the season with a scrimmage win over South and on Monday they beat visiting Brush in five innings, 10-0.

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The Cardinals faced a bases loaded with no outs situation in the top of the first and after pitching their way out of that jam they scored seven runs in the bottom half of the inning to take control of the game.

“We come in every day and we hit every single day we’re here,” said Mentor coach Jo Bondra. “We try to get each girl around 200 swings a day at practice because we know we have the pitching and the defense and we have to produce runs. We’re going to face a lot of good pitchers, so everything we’re doing is to get ready to face those pitchers.”

That strategy has paid off as Mentor has now outscored its first two scrimmage opponents 21-3.

Of course, that success starts with solid defense and pitching.

Leah Temple started in the circle with some trouble settling into the strike zone. She gave up a seeing-eye single and walked two to fill the bases with Arcs. She then pitched her way out of that jam and struck out the side in the second to finish her day with four strikeouts.

Kristin Dems relieved Temple and struck out five in two scoreless innings of work.

When the pitchers weren’t in the circle, they were in the batting cage throwing to better prepare for the upcoming season.

“They work hard,” Bondra said of her pitchers. “Between innings, they went out and threw a workout. Every single day, even the six weeks before we started, they were going in and throwing on their own. We told them they have to work harder than everyone else out here and that’s what they do.”

Addison Seidler pitched the final two innings and finished her day with four strikeouts giving the Cardinals a total of 13 in six innings of work.

Seidler also led the Cardinals with two hits and Temple tripled home a pair of runs in that first-inning rally. Adrianna Sluga drew a game-high two walks

Mentor finished the game with eight hits and committed just two errors.

“Everyone impresses me every day when they come out there,” Bondra said. “I threw a sophomore in her first varsity game at the end and she got a hit for us. All of the girls that came off the bench came in and got some bunts down and swung the bats now. It’s all about the team and that’s how they are, 1-9 or 1-15 that we dressed today, they all show up and do what they have to do.”

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The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.