MENTOR—It didn’t take long for a shakeup in The News-Herald’s Softball Top of the Crop.
Riverside’s bats came alive midway through its season-opener at No. 1 Mentor on Thursday and the No. 2 Beavers cruised to a 12-1 six-inning win over the Cardinals.
“If felt good to win,” said Riverside coach Bill Ross. “I felt the girls came out swinging the bats well and I thought Grace (Fisher) was great in the circle.”
Riverside took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning on Amanda Kolar’s two-run double.
Kayla Bobeczko singled to open the inning and Milana McCaleb reached on an infield single before Kolar smacked a line drive into center field.
The Beavers broke the game open with a five-run fifth.
After the Cardinals recorded the first out of the inning, Maren Kelly hammered a 1-2 pitch deep over the left field fence for a 3-0 lead. Bobeczko then hit a two-out triple and Megan Lehner reached on an error. McCaleb then tripled home two more runs and Kolar homered over the center field fence to push the lead to 7-0.
The Beavers added three more runs in the fifth and two in the sixth to invoke the run rule.
Kolar finished the day 3-for-4 with a double, a home run, and five runs batted in. Bobeczko also was 3-for-4 with three runs scored, a triple, and an RBI.
“We’ve got five good seniors on this team that are leading us, which is outstanding,” Ross said. “I think everybody kind of falls in line. I think the girls really played well and those two home runs were huge.”
Fisher allowed just one earned run on nine hits and struck out nine.
“We are super excited, we have been waiting for Grace’s senior year,” Ross said. “She pitched great last year in a split roll and this year, she’s going to carry the load and we could not be more excited to see what she can do. She’s been pitching great.”
Kristin Dems took the hard-luck loss for the Cardinals. She allowed just three earned runs on seven hits and struck out two in 3 2/3 innings of work.
Dems retired the Beavers in order in the first inning and pitched out of a jam in the second.
Mentor threatened early in the game but couldn’t get the clutch hit needed to take an early lead.
Bella Carcioppolo singled in the first inning but was caught stealing second and Abby Haydu opened the second inning with a double but Fisher retired the next three batters in order.
“We need to make adjustments at the plate earlier,” said Mentor coach Jo Bondra. “Against Riverside, our girls think way too much about what they’re doing instead of just playing the game they’ve been playing since they were probably eight years old. They come into the game all hyped up because it’s Riverside and it’s No. 1 vs. No. 2, and then we kind of lose ourselves. We didn’t make adjustments at the plate and we were trying to kill the ball every time we’re up there instead of just getting base hits.”
Facing a fifth-inning run rule, the Cardinals scratched across a run to extend the game.
Leah Temple hit a one-out single and Peyton Trick doubled to center, which allowed Temple to score from first.
“We have some kids that that game meant a lot to because they have a lot of friends on the other team, so I know that they didn’t want to go home early,” Bondra said. “They did everything they could, which it was great to see a fight when you’re down like that in a game when it’s freezing cold outside and everybody probably wants to get out of there. For Leah, that game meant a lot to her and she ran as hard as she could to get that run across the plate. To see that they still have fight late in the game with the conditions and everything, that’s one positive that we took away from today, that they still fought as long as they could.”
Temple and Sydni Bush both recorded two hits for the Cardinals and Trick, Carcioppolo, Haydu, Jordan Alesci, and Izzy Coode each had one hit.
Mentor will have an opportunity to redeem itself as the Cardinals will travel to Riverside on April 8.