No mercy

MOUNT UNION – Mount Union’s Marissa Aurand and Moshannon Valley’s Lucy Baker both did something tough on Friday when the two teams faced off on the diamond to open the softball season – each took her first varsity start from the mound.

An experience likely to be memorable regardless of the outcome, the first varsity start is one to remember, but for Aurand, the 15-0 score in the Trojans’ favor certainly made the memory all the sweeter.

Aurand held the Damsels to two hits, and the rest of the Trojans came ready to play too, putting up a whopping 12 runs in the bottom of the third to end the game early as the mercy rule came into play as soon as the Trojans scored their 15th run.

“I say this a lot about our team hitting up and down the lineup – we even brought people off the bench and were able to hit today – so I was proud of that,” Mount Union coach Matt Fiscus said.

It certainly wasn’t without reason that he was proud of his girls’ offense Friday.

In a performance which was highlighted by a deep three-run homer over the left-center field fence by Liza Feagley, the Trojans batted through the entire lineup and then some in the bottom of the third to round out Mount Union’s dominant performance. And if the score alone wasn’t evidence of the offensive prowess of the Trojans’ starting lineup, RBIs from pinch hitters Chapin Guiliante and Katelyn Kester demonstrated the team’s depth.

“I thought we ran the bases well. When the girls saw a passed ball, they were taking off.” Fiscus said, explaining that although his team hit very well Friday, another key part of its offense was the girls’ aggression on base.

In the third inning in particular, Moshannon Valley struggled to deal with Mount Union’s base running, as the Trojans either advanced on wild or missed pitches, or stretched their hits into extra bases by forcing the Damsels to make tough throws.

In fact, in the bottom of the second, Ashlyn Drake practically ran a clinic on base running when after getting a walk with two outs and teammate Katie Smith on third, Drake immediately rounded first and got into a rundown, which she maintained long enough for Smith to score before Drake was tagged out at second.

“We had to slide a couple times to be safe, because we … made them make the throws to get us out. And this time of year, without the practice, most teams aren’t able to do that, so we were able to take advantage,” Fiscus said.

On the field, Mount Union was also strong, as Aurand recorded three strikeouts and strong defense throughout the field held the Damsels to just two hits.

“First time out, you never know what’s going to happen. We had a rookie on the mound, and she did a great job pitching a two hitter there. The field played well behind her there, I thought. Drake made a couple real nice plays there at second base to take us out of an inning there. And then we obviously really came to hit,” Fiscus said. “The girls have been working real hard this spring here with the weather. Even when it’s been nice enough to get outside, it’s really cold like this. So it’s a real testament to their work ethic that they came to play today even though it’s not the greatest circumstances.”

Mount Union (1-0, 1-0 Inter-County Conference) gets back in action when it hosts Williamsburg Wednesday.