The East Ridge Lady Pioneers are off and running with the 2013 high school softball season as they've won three games this week without a defeat.
The first two wins were lopsided shutouts where the Lady Pioneers scored 46 runs but the third was much closer as they made two unearned runs stand up in a 3-2 victory over Hixson on Friday afternoon in the first day of action in the 15th Annual March Madness Tournament at Hixson.
The Lady Pioneers scored single runs in each of the first three innings and made them count.
Hixson scored its only two runs in the bottom of the third on a two-run single by pitcher Jessica Green, but the Lady Wildcats could do no more damage against East Ridge pitcher Ashley Irvin, who went the distance and scattered five hits while walking two and hitting one. She also finished the day with five strikeouts.
"It was a good competitive game, but we made several mental mistakes that didn't make me happy. We did just enough to squeak by," said East Ridge coach Sandy Mauser after the game was called by time limit after five innings.
"Ashley (Irvin) pitched a good game and did a good job of mixing up her pitches, but I'm not happy with our base running as we have a lot of little things to correct. I feel like we have the potential to have a pretty good team, but we just need to be more consistent and to keep a positive attitude. We just have to put it all together," Mauser added.
The Lady Pioneers finished the day with eight hits and three runs, but two of the three runs came courtesy of Hixson errors.
Alexis Moore led off the first inning with a single and later scored on a throwing error by the Hixson second baseman while Morgan Montieth ripped a one-out single in the second and later scored on a boot by the Lady Wildcat shortstop.
What turned out to be the winning run came in the third.
Irvin showed a lot of patience at the plate to lead off with a walk on a 3-2 count. Aleisha Lynn went to first as a courtesy runner and later scored on a fielders choice by Rachel Watkins.
Hixson made it 3-2 with two runs in the bottom of the third.
Charlie Jeffries got hit by a pitch with one out and went to second on a single by Ciera Taylor. Both scored on a single to the right-field corner by Green, but Irvin retired the next two on a strikeout and a grounder to second to avoid any further trouble.
Hixson got a two-out single by Destiny Peardon in the fourth, but she was stranded while Taylor had an infield single in the fifth and went to second on a two-out walk to Marissa Murray. Both were left standing when Irvin got Breonna Elliott to end the threat with pop to second that ended the game.
Hixson coach Jayme Putman wasn't exactly in the best mood following the game, which was her team's second defeat in the past 24 hours.
"We made too many mental mistakes on defense and we just came out flat. I'm not sure if we were tired from the late game last night or what, but I'm not at all happy with the way we played today.
"Take away our errors and we should win the game. East Ridge has gotten a lot better and they played well, but we just beat ourselves. I have high expectations for this team, but we're still trying to get the kinks out," Putman added as her team prepared to take the field against Cleveland.
Holly Wilson, Leilani Forton and Montieth all had two hits for East Ridge while Stacey Hamill and Moore had one apiece.
Taylor was the only Hixson player with two hits. Jeffries, Peardon and Green all finished with a single apiece.
Green was saddled with the loss after allowing three runs on eight hits while walking one and striking out four.
EAST RIDGE 111 00 -- 3 8 0
HIXSON 002 00 -- 2 5 3
Irvin and Najeeullah; Green and Riley.
March Madness Schedule
At Hixson Middle School
Hixson vs. Silverdale, 9 a.m.
Hixson vs. Grace, 10:45 a.m.
Marion County vs Cleveland, 12:30
Pool play ends
Single elimination begins, 3
At Hixson High School
Red Bank vs. East Ridge, 9 a.m.
Red Bank vs. Cleveland, 10:45
Silverdale vs. East Ridge, 12:30
Single elimination begins, 2:15
Championship final, 8
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)