A harsh, constant wind blew in the face of South River softball coach Don Leonard yesterday afternoon as he watched his Seahawks' outing against visiting Broadneck.
But you might say his squad's home-opening, 16-7 victory over the Bruins (0-1) made it easier to weather the storm.
"This is what I wanted -- to open with Broadneck," said Leonard, head coach at Broadneck during last year's tumultuous 7-11 season, which culminated in his being dismissed late in the year for using abusive language in a game.
"Now that it's over, I guess I have mixed emotions about today. I feel good that we won, but if I had my druthers, I'd rather have been somewhere else."
Still, Leonard, whose Seahawks return just two seniors from an 8-10 squad, enjoyed watching as South River capitalized on seven walks to score seven runs in the second inning, turning a 6-2 deficit into a 9-6 lead.
The Seahawks trailed, 6-5, when sophomore first baseman Amy Henshaw, the top hitter up from last year's 11-7 junior varsity squad, nailed a no-outs, bases-loaded triple to put her team ahead for good.
Henshaw went on to score four runs, going 5-for-5 with a single, two doubles and a pair of triples.
"I've never played varsity before. This was very exciting and just a lot of fun," said Henshaw.
Joining in the onslaught were junior shortstop Diana Niland (3-for-4, two RBI) and junior center fielder Erin Early (2-for-3).
South River's sophomore hurler Mandy McLaughlin gave up six runs and six hits in the second inningas the Bruins overcame a 2-0 first-inning deficit, but later regained control.
Leonard removed McLaughlin after the fourth inning, with her team ahead, 13-7. McLaughlin yielded eight hits and two walks, and notched four strikeouts.
From there, speed-balling reliever Lindsay Pell retired eight of the 11 batters she faced, giving up just two hits against four strikeouts and a put-out.
"I was real happy with my pitchers for their first time out," said Leonard. "They're both very young, and they're only going to get better."
Broadneck coach Bruce Springer probably wished he could have had a few more innings like the visitors' second and fewer like the home second.
SouthRiver led, 1-0, after freshman Cassidie Dunbar singled to deep rightfield, scoring senior Renee Howard from first base. Dunbar was thrown out at second, but Henshaw and Niland hit consecutive singles, withHenshaw scoring on a double-steal.
The Bruins rallied for the lead behind two run-scoring errors by the Seahawks, RBI singles by center fielder Nikki Green and third baseman Sue Zwolinski, and a two-run triple by senior shortstop Ava Tasker.
All of that went for naught, however, when Broadneck's sophomore starter Kristin Butler walked the first six batters to bring the Seahawks to within 6-5, setting up the heavy-hitting Henshaw.
"The walks are really what hurt us," said Springer, whose squad also committed four errors.
The Seahawks had a three-run third, scored another run in each of the fourth and fifth innings and two more in the sixth.