Strasburg falls in season opener

STRASBURG – With a young squad, Strasburg’s softball team had to start off its season with a tough task – facing defending Group 2A state champion Page County.

The Rams’ inexperience showed at times in a 15-1 loss to the Panthers on Wednesday in a non-district contest. The game was halted after five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.

“The only thing I’m frustrated with is giving them extra outs and not making simple plays,” Strasburg coach Suzanne Mathias said. “The plays that we made errors on were routine plays and that’s what’s frustrating. If it was a hard play that could go either way, then I wouldn’t be as frustrated with it. We talked about it before the game — finish out the play. We didn’t do that. It will come. They’re young. I got three freshmen up here. It will be all right.”

The Panthers took an early lead aided by two Strasburg errors. Page County’s Morgan Treger reached on an error to start off the game, and Kate Gordon drew a walk from Strasburg pitcher Carey Scott. Treger was caught stealing third, and Savannah Jones followed with an infield single.

With two outs, Nicole Mongold’s RBI single gave the Panthers a 1-0 edge. Sabrina Foltz then reached base on an error, which scored two more runs for a 3-0 lead.

The Rams responded in the bottom of the first. Scott led off with a bunt single, and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Cortney McDonald. Strasburg freshman Madison Foltz drew a walk from Page County starting pitcher Jones. Both Scott and Foltz stole a base, and Scott later scored on a wild pitch from Jones.

“I have a little bit of speed this year. You got to get on to be able to utilize it,” Mathias said of Strasburg’s base running. “We got to get other people on too so we can do more of that.”

Jones was able to get out of the inning as Olivia Gochenour lined out and Emily Alexander struck out to end the threat.

The Panthers’ bats came to life in the next three innings. Page County scored three runs in the top of the second on a three-run homer by Kate Gordon.

It was more of the same in the top of the third as Gordon hit another three-run homer, and Jones had a solo home run during a six-run inning.

“Offensively, I thought we did a really, really nice job,” Knight said. “… We did a nice job as a team hitting up and down the lineup.”

The Panthers added three more runs in the top of the fourth to extend the lead to 15-1. Dani Mauck had an RBI single and Treger had a two-run single.

“(Scott) hit her spots for the most part,” Mathias said. “Page is just a strong hitting team. She hit her spots where the catcher was calling for the ball.”

The Rams had the bases loaded in the bottom of the third inning. Strasburg’s Ashley Yanego was hit by a pitch from Jones to start the inning. With two outs, Strasburg’s Foltz drew a walk, and Gochenour followed with a single. Jones was able to induce a flyout by Alexander to end the inning.

“We made contact,” Mathias said. “We need to work a little more on hitting, and being able to get the ball in play and have base runners. So that we can do things that we’re good at.”

The Panthers had 11 hits, with five different players collecting two hits.

Page County lost four players from last year’s team to graduation, and Knight said he has some players playing in different positions this year. He said he likes the potential his team has.

“We still got some work to do,” Knight said. “I think we have very good potential. We’ll just see how far we go with that.”

The Rams managed only three hits facing three different Page County pitchers.

Mathias said playing against Page County was a good experience for her young squad.

“That’s a good team. It shows you definitely what you got to work on. You take and you learn from it,” Mathias said. “… I have a lot of good players. I can move them around and put them in a lot of different positions, which is nice. This is probably the most talent that I’ve had in a few years. I’m looking forward to working with them.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com