NEW MARKET — In the long-awaited opening of the new Southmont baseball and softball complex — the Mounties squared off against Clinton Prairie in their softball season opener on Monday night and there was no shortage of offense.
Southmont (0-1) scored eight runs in the first two innings, but the Gophers (1-2) had the last say in a 10-8 win.
The Mounties led 8-3 after two innings, before Clinton Prairie responded with a five-run third, and then scored the go-ahead run in the fourth and an insurance run in the sixth. The Gophers scored their 10 runs on 10 hits, but nine Southmont errors made six of the runs unearned.
“We acted like we were still on spring break, we were mentally very tense on defense. We also made mental errors defensively,” Southmont coach Dan Taylor said. “We didn’t throw to the right places aside from just not fielding the ball very well. We played like we were little tired. I don’t say that as an excuse, because I’m not very happy about it, it’s just a matter of fact.”
Hits from Rebekah Stevens, Rylee Ward, and Bailey Floyd helped plate three Gopher runs in the top half of the first, but the Mounties responded with a three-spot in their first at-bat behind a RBI double from Macie Shirk and a pair of RBI hits from Natalie Manion and Elizabeth Conkright.
Southmont’s bats stayed hot in the second — Shirk drove in a pair with her second double and Hanna Nichols drove in a run with one of her team-high three hits. The success chased Clinton Prairie starting pitcher Stevens out of the game, but the hit-fest for the Mounties left too. Southmont tagged Stevens for eight runs on 10 hits in just an inning and a third, but managed just five hits and no runs the rest of the way.
“When we were ahead 8-3, they made a decision to change their pitcher,” Taylor said. “Much slower pitcher and we did not handle that adjustment well. To give them credit, they made a strategic decision and moved their third-baseman back to catcher so we would stop stealing bases and from that point on we didn’t score any runs. We just didn’t battle and I was disappointed with our team fight.”
Gopher relief pitcher Maddie Cornell shut down the Mounties in 5 2/3 innings pitched, allowing no runs on five hits, walking one and striking out four to pick up the win.
Clinton Prairie took the lead in the fourth when Cornell reached on an error and courtesy runner Haven Wilson came around to score on a throwing error. Ward added a run of insurance in the sixth on a two-out double from Grace Good after Ward tripled.
Shirk took the loss for the Mounties, allowing 10 runs, four of which were earned, on 10 hits, striking out five and walking one. The junior led the Mounties offensively with a pair of doubles and three runs driven in, while Marissa Craig added two hits and two RBI.
For the first time since their regional loss in 2019, the Mounties took the field on Monday and despite the losing outcome, there was excitement at the new ballpark.
“We had a lot of fans here,” Taylor said. “And kind of the buzz in the ballpark and that was exciting. The field looked great. We appreciate everything the school has done for us to get us a nice field and we also appreciate our fanbase so hopefully we will give them something more to cheer about.”
Southmont travels to Attica on Tuesday.