North County tops Pallotti, 5-3

Defending 4A champions jump to 5-0 lead, hold on

Softball

High Schools

March 25, 2004|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

New season, same old North County softball.

The two-time defending Class 4A state champ and top-ranked Knights were on display for the first time yesterday against No. 6 Pallotti, showing the same tools that brought all that success in prior seasons.

With strong pitching from junior Beth Mullins and a nine-hit attack that struck early, the Knights came away with a 5-3 win over the visiting Panthers in Ferndale.

The Knights jumped out to a 5-0 lead after two innings and survived a late-game scare from the Panthers, who fell for the first time after two straight wins to open the season.

After the Panthers plated one run in the sixth and two more in the seventh to cut the lead to 5-3, Mullins got Pam Supsic to ground into a force play with the tying runs on base.

Mullins allowed five hits and finished with seven strikeouts, also going 2-for-3 at the plate with two RBIs and two runs scored to lead the way for the Panthers.

"We've been practicing a lot on our hitting and that showed early. We made a few errors, which is normal for a first game, but it wasn't anything major, so I was real happy," said Mullins.

If the Knights had any first-game jitters, it certainly didn't appear that way in getting off to an impressive start.

Jamie Buchheit got the three-run first-inning rally started with a one-out walk and scored when Mullins smashed a double to left. Danielle Martinez provided a run-scoring single to center and then Amanda Baldwin drove a double to left to make it 3-0.

Buchheit and Mullins produced run-scoring singles in the second inning for the 5-0 cushion.

"One of their girls asked me if this was our first game and I said, `Yeah,' and she said, `Really, because it doesn't seem like it,' " said Martinez, a senior catcher. "We got on them early and may have been a little jittery at the end, but it all worked out."

After the rough start, Pallotti senior pitcher Becky Zanelotti was able to settle in, while the Panthers' offense finally broke through with a run in the sixth inning on Kelly Smith's RBI single.

The Panthers had the bases loaded in the seventh with one out when Katie Donovan walked to make it 5-2. Kristin Fusco's fielder's choice cut the lead to 5-3 before Mullins got Supsic to ground to shortstop Jen Roantes, who flipped to third baseman Amanda Baldwin for the force.

Pallotti coach Paul O'Brien was pleased with his team's no-quit ending.

"Many teams in that situation may have thought about packing it in and coming back tomorrow, but I was really pleased with how we came back to make it interesting," he said.

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