Grim homers, drives in 3 as Hawks top Falcons in softball opener

WOODSTOCK – Skyline High School’s softball team set a program record for wins in a season a year ago. The Hawks picked up win No. 1 of the 2018 season in the opener on Monday night.

Skyline’s bats heated up in the latter half of a frigid game at Central to back a complete-game effort from senior pitcher Tamara Grayson, and the Hawks kicked off the new season with a 5-2 non-district win over the Falcons.

The Hawks went hitless against Central starter Kristina Stead over the first three innings before striking for five runs against the Falcon senior over the final four frames.

“They used to make fun of us last year, we always start off slow,” said Hawks senior Lexi Grim, who went 2-for-4 with a double, home run and three RBIs in the win. “They used to say we never hit until the fifth inning and that was always true. We start off slow and once one person hits it’s like a chain reaction, everybody wants to hit, everybody wants to join in.”

It was Grim who got Skyline (1-0) rolling in the top of the fourth inning when the lefty went the other way and lined an RBI double – the first of Skyline’s six hits – to left-center to tie the game at 1-1. The senior gave the Hawks a 3-1 lead in the sixth with a two-out, two-run blast – again to left-center – on a first-pitch offering from Stead.

“I really went up there expecting an outside pitch, expecting to once again drive it to the opposite field, but she pitched me where I like, high and right down the middle,” Grim said of the homer. “I took it where it needed to go.”

The Hawks, leading 3-2, added a pair of insurance runs in the top of the seventh with Natasha Grayson’s two-run single to left off Central (0-1) reliever Alicia Ball, providing plenty of run support for Tamara Grayson.

Tamara Grayson wasn’t dominant in the circle on Monday night – she struck out just two over seven innings after averaging more than a strikeout per inning last season – but the all-state pitcher was efficient. She scattered four hits and one walk, was charged with only one earned run and needed just 78 pitches to get through the game.

“She got girls to hit the ball, and when you’re making the defensive plays that’s great,” Hawks head coach John Ritter said. “Yeah, it wasn’t her best game but it was still good.

“It’s early in the season and we’re fine with that. I know as we start playing more it’ll get better for her. But I’m good with it.”

Central claimed its first lead under new head coach Scott Mongold when Skyline’s lone error of the night set up Alex Mantz’s RBI double in the third inning.

Mantz drove in another run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly after Skyline center fielder Kaley Mahoney made a nice running grab to prevent the ball from falling in for a hit.

“The knock on Central’s always been that their offense has always been lacking in years past, and we’re making an honest effort this year to be aggressive with the softball bats,” Mongold said. “We had two strikeouts through seven innings, so the balls, they’re in play. It’s early. I mean there were some hard-hit balls that were caught. Eventually those balls are gonna fall. All we’ve gotta do is keep swinging the bats.”

Stead was charged with five earned runs on six hits, five walks and 10 strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings pitched. Chloee Burton led the Falcons’ offense with two hits, three stolen bases and a run scored.