Coming off an upset loss against Parkside the day before, the Mardela High softball team knew hosting James M Bennett on Tuesday afternoon would have high ramifications on Bayside South standings — needing a win to remain in first place.
After blanking the Clippers 8-0 on Senior Day with solid fielding behind pitcher Kalie Adkins and a well-rounded offense, Mardela is now in the drivers seat to repeat as South champs.
“I gave them the challenge yesterday that today was pretty much going to be whoever wins today’s game has a shot to win the South,” Mardela head coach Kory Shiles said.
Mardela’s offense was alive and well from the first batter to step in the box as Sydney Goertzen lined a triple down the left field line. Baylee Littleton stepped up next to hit a single to drive in Goertzen to make it 1-0 as fans were still filing in the outfield.
Patience was the key to continue the runs for Mardela on a two out rally as Bennett pitcher Kasey Donalds walked four straight batters, driving in two after the bases were loaded to make it 3-0 before Donalds got out of the jam with a strikeout on the Warriors’ ninth batter.
“We were very disciplined there,” Shiles said. “I’m proud of the girls for not chasing the high pitch, because all they’re going to do with that is pop it up. They did a nice job of making her work down in the zone.”
Adkins walked a batter in the second with two outs but quickly struck out the next to give Mardela another chance at the plate with the top of the order back to bat. Patient at the plate, Littleton walked before being driven in by a Kasey Goshorn sacrifice fly.
Typically one of the top control pitchers in the conference, the off-day by Donalds was trickling through the team despite Bennett head coach Kim Fitzgerald’s attempts to drive her team.
“We had all the talent in the world and we know it,” Fitzgerald said. “Sometimes you’re going to make mistakes, and at this point in the season as an athlete you’ve gotta realize that you’ve gotta overcome that and you’ve gotta pull it together.”
Mardela continued to pour on the points in the third, once again going on a three-run rally with two outs. Ashlynn White reached first on a fielding error before being driven in by a Mackensie Disbennett triple, who was then driven in by a Goertzen single before Littleton earned another RBI with a single of her own.
Refusing to be no-hit, Bennett catcher Angel Adkins knocked a single past the Warrior infield in the top of the fourth to give a little life before her pinch runner, Erin Langan, was thrown out on a force at second to end the inning.
“Instead of chipping away offensively, which we knew we had to do, whether it was small ball or long ball, whatever it was it just didn’t happen,” Fitzgerald said.
Kalie Adkins walking in the fourth gave Mardela another chance to score with the healthy 7-0 lead. With two outs six-hole hitter Emily Callaway smacked a double to take all the life out of Bennett as the Warriors reached the final 8-0 tally.
Mardela quietly closed out the final three innings to give themselves the victory and sole possession of first place in the Bayside South before their final two games in the coming week. Taking down the top threat to the Bayside crown, the Warriors are feeling strong heading into the stretch after getting back on course.
“We played fearless and confident,” Shiles said. “Good things happen when you want it more than everybody.”