The Maryville softball team kicked off the 2018 season August 27 and escaped with a narrow one-run victory against North Nodaway, defeating the Mustangs 3-2.
The Spoofhounds were led to victory by an impressive outing from starting pitcher Riley Gray, who went the distance pitching seven full innings. Gray allowed only two runs, with both coming in the first inning.
Maryville fell behind early, with the Mustangs crossing for two runs in the top of the first, both coming via errors on the Spoofhounds defense. The Hounds quickly bounced back with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the first inning, tying the game up at two runs apiece.
The score remained tied at two until the fourth inning, when senior shortstop Emma Baldwin ripped an RBI single to right field, driving in the eventual winning run. Gray kept the Mustangs offense at bay for the rest of the contest.
Coach Chandra Demott said she was proud of the way her team bounced back after falling behind early on. She credits this to mental toughness that the team has been working on a lot lately, which will be a key to success for the Spoofhounds during this season.
“We’ve been talking a lot about mental toughness and making the adjustment with our girls,” Demott said. “We’ve been putting them in a lot of pressure situations in practice because that’s honestly the best way you can prepare this early in the season.”
Demott spoke more about the mental toughness she is trying to instill in her team for the season ahead, stating that it is a cultural ordeal.
“Like I said, mental toughness has been a big weakness of ours overall, so culturally we’re trying to bring that up to par and just trying to get the girls to communicate and work together is a big difference for us right now.”
There are five seniors on this year’s squad, including Jacklyn Hersh, who has played varsity since freshman year, have seen numerous changes in the team between now and then. Hersh believes the team has improved dramatically since then.
“We’ve improved a lot since my freshman year. That team didn’t win very many games and through the four years I’ve seen big changes,” Hersh said.
All five seniors including Hersh, Jillian Partridge, Summer Swalley, McKenzie Salcedo and Emma Baldwin, will be leaned on heavily by a freshman and sophomore heavy roster, for leadership and experience. Baldwin, who drove in the winning run for the Spoofhounds against the Mustangs, says it is a weird feeling to be a senior on a squad she has been a part of for four years.
“It’s weird being here,” Baldwin said. “I feel like yesterday we were just baby freshman learning the ropes.”
Baldwin says she also notices the younger players looking up to her and her fellow seniors for support and guidance, which will be key during the season.
“I think they look up to us a lot because we all have a lot of experience under our belts for sure,” Baldwin said. “I like being a leader.”
Maryville fell short in their next game against Lathrop 4-2 August 28. The Spoofhounds will have a chance to bounce back September 4 at Cameron.