By Bruce Robins, Sun Correspondent
ENGLEWOOD – Lackluster hitting and shoddy defense weren’t a good combination for the Lemon Bay softball team as the Manta Rays dropped a 4-1 decision to Mariner in a non-district softball game Monday night.
Mariner pitcher Hannah Holloway kept the Lemon Bay hitters off balance all night, striking out 13 while giving up just five hits, leaving Mantas coach Kim Pinkham at a loss for words after the contest.
“We only lost one senior last year,” Pinkham said. “But it’s the same difficulty night after night after night.”
Lemon Bay freshman pitcher Bailey Grossenbacher deserved a better fate, allowing seven hits and no earned runs in going the distance.
“Bailey couldn’t have done any better. She’s been struggling, but she threw about 100 pitches tonight and just 19 were balls. That’s awesome,” Pinkham said. “She did everything in the circle, with no earned runs.”
Mariner jumped on top in the top of the first inning. Consecutive singles by Amanda Myers and Abby Love and an error by Lemon Bay catcher Christain Chandler loaded the bases before Myers came home on a force out at third.
The Tritons had runners at first and third with no outs in the fourth inning, but the Manta Rays got out of the inning unscathed, thanks to a double play.
Lemon Bay finally got on the board and evened things up at 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning as Grossenbacher singled, Brooke Kvaternick walked and Chandler drove in Grossenbacher with a single to right.
But the Tritons came right back with three runs in the top of the sixth inning. After Monica Montes reached on an error and Yasmine Halaby doubled over the head of right fielder Rayne Wells, Mariner had runners at second and third with nobody out. It appeared Lemon Bay would again get out of the inning, as first baseman Kasi Shaffer made an unassisted put-out on a bunt down the first-base line by Julia Mekelet, and Georgia Waddell grounded out to short. But Jaliyah Lopez hit another grounder to shortstop Leanna Kelly, who threw over the head of Shaffer at first, allowing both runners to score.
The fourth run scored on another error by Kelly, and Lemon Bay was unable to mount a threat in the final two innings, although Lopez tried to make it interesting by misplaying two infield line drives for Mariner.
“Our offensive approach was ridiculous,” Pinkham said. “Their pitcher did a great job, but we made zero adjustments throughout the game. And we’re not making enough adjustments game to game. So it’s very, very frustrating. We’ve got to dig deep here. We’re still trying to find out what’s missing.”
MARINER 4, LEMON BAY 1
Mariner 100 003 0 – 4 7 3
Lemon Bay 000 010 0 – 1 5 5
WP: Hannah Holloway. LP: Bailey Grossenbacher. Leading hitters: Bailey Grossenbacher (LB) 2-4, run; Christain Chandler (LB) 1-4, RBI; Hannah Holloway (M) 2-4, 2B; Amanda Myers (M) 2-4, run. Records: Mariner 3-5. Lemon Bay 4-5.