Six errors, two total hits, and zero RBI base knocks — normally, that won’t get the job done.
But State College softball found a way.
Boosted by cerebral baserunning and starter Jennie Ewton, the Lady Little Lions (4-0) remained undefeated, edging Carlisle 5-4 at home on Tuesday evening.
Ewton, a senior making her first career varsity start, went the distance, allowing only two earned runs and four hits over seven innings of work.
“For her first varsity start, to get a win today, it was a big deal for her, and a big deal for us,” State College coach Mike Harper said. “If we would have played better defense behind her, it’s not so stressful at the end of the game.”
And stressful it was.
After the Lady Little Lions firmly held a 3-2 lead through four innings, defensive errors gave away the lead.
Carlisle’s Ally Glenn led off getting hit by pitch, and, with two outs, Cayla Abby slapped a single into left field, but State College’s Alyssa Shedlock misjudged it and the ball rolled past her all the way to the fence. Glenn scored from first to tie it up.
The next pitch, Kalyn Shearer popped one up in front of the circle, State College first baseman Jenna Peterson stood under the blooper, and dropped it, allowing Shearer to reach safely and Abby to advance to third.
Carlisle’s Mackenzie Weary took advantage, hitting a ground-rule, RBI double into left on the following pitch.
The Thundering Herd held a 4-3 lead.
“We made a lot of mistakes in the field, and they capitalized on them,” Harper said. “It’s just one of those games.”
But fielding mistakes didn’t totally erode Ewton’s evening.
The senior right-hander was efficient, needing 70 pitches to navigate 30 batters. She recorded only one strikeout, but induced 13 groundouts, eight of which came on the first or second pitch of the at-bat.
Ewton said she was “a little nervous at times,” but generally confident taking the circle.
“I just told myself, I have a great team, great coaches, and I prepared for this, and I’m going to do my best,” Ewton said.
“It’s a win I’ll never forget.”
Thankfully for Ewton’s bid to be the winning pitcher, her teammates backed her up.
Not with the bats, but with their legs.
In the first two innings, State College tallied three runs on wild pitches — including one that went off the pitcher’s leg in her windup.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Lady Little Lions plated the tying run on a throwing error, and went ahead on a wacky play.
With Shedlock on third and Hannah Shields on second, Shields broke for third after a pitch. With Shields caught in between the bags, Carlisle’s catcher threw to second, and Shedlock broke for the plate.
The senior slid under the tag, beating the throw home and notching the eventual game-winning run.
“Fortunately, we were smart on the bases,” Harper said. “The sticks weren’t here today, but being able to take advantage of some things offensively was beneficial for us.”
Ewton and State College’s running helped shroud those hitting woes and fielding mistakes, and lifted the Lady Little Lions to their fourth straight win to open the 2016 season.
But with a home game against Cumberland Valley on Thursday, Harper hopes his team is hitting on all cylinders.