As anyone listening can attest, what got it done yesterday for Glenelg's softball team against Howard was simply good old-fashion grunt work.
Sophomore pitcher Stephanie Sims, in her first varsity start, let out a resounding "ugh" with every pitch over seven innings, and the sound quickly became a sweet symphony to coach Cameron Rahnama's ears as she gave up only three hits in a 6-0 win over the host Lions.
"I'm so proud of her," Rahnama said. "I've got all the confidence in the world in her ability. I wanted to let her know what it was like to get a start, and she came through today."
Part of the reason Rahnama wanted to give the ball to Sims instead of No. 1 starter Ashley Fowler was to help prepare for the playoffs, where the Gladiators (8-2) will likely need two quality pitchers to make some noise in a 2A West region that includes Howard (8-3) and Atholton. But in addition, the Lions hit Fowler hard in a 17-5 win April 3, and Rahmana figured he'd roll the dice and switch up things.
"Coach told me I'd earned it," Sims said. "I just tried to pitch the ball where my catcher Kirby [Brooks] wanted it, and I had confidence in my defense to get the outs."
Glenelg's bats had confidence too, pounding out 16 hits off Howard pitcher Randi Grantham, who was starting in place of No. 1 starter Kristin Gormus, one of the best players in the county. Gormus and center fielder Megan Allen missed their second straight game because of a class trip, a frustrating situation for Lions coach Dave Vezzi. In the Lions' 17-5 over the Gladiators, Allen went 4-for-5 with four RBIs and Gormus pitched six innings without giving up an earned run.
"It's tough when you're right there in the county race and you don't have two of your top players," Vezzi said. "But we just didn't hit the ball today. That was the difference." Glenelg certainly did, led by third baseman Kelly Hollrah, who went 5-for-5 with four singles, an RBI triple and two runs scored.
"This game was really important because they killed us the first time we played," Hollrah said. "We wanted to show them we could play, because last time we really didn't."
Hollrah got things started in the first inning with a single, and the Gladiators took a 1-0 lead when she scored on a double by Sarah Cullison. Glenelg surged ahead 4-0 in the third on the strength of an RBI double from Cheyenne Davidson and a triple from Hollrah. The Gladiators tacked on two more runs in the fifth thanks to four consecutive hits by Davidson, Hollrah, Danielle Devereux and Cullison.