On paper, it was a rematch of last season’s Class 3, District 1 championship game. In reality, it wasn’t. Perryville broke the game open in the fifth inning with six runs as the Lady Pirates cruised to a 9-0 victory over Doniphan on Saturday at the Southeast Missouri State Softball Complex.
For Perryville softball coach Dustin Wengert it was imperative for his team to get the season off on the right foot.
“I think we had to come out here and get off to a good start,” Wengert said. “Even though we are district champions, all eyes will be on us, and we are trying to move past that. I think it was a good way to open the season and make sure we were focused with a quality opponent.”
Kaylin Rose Schuessler and Cailyne Sparkman each had a pair of hits in the game and Makayla Brown pitched a complete game in the circle to preserve the victory.
But it wasn’t until the fifth inning that the Pirates pulled ahead for good.
Brown started the inning with a double, Makayla Burns followed with a single to put runners on the corners.
Schuessler drove in a run with a single and Sparkman mirrored that success with an RBI single to give Perryville a 5-0 advantage. Ann-Marie Simpson then put pressure on the defense. With a runner on third, Simpson walked and hustled around first base, while Katie Burns inched down the line, forcing the second baseman to choose where to throw.
The fielder chose to throw home, where Burns was called safe and Simpson ended up on third.
“When you have speed, it’s something that you have to take advantage of sometimes,” Wengert said. “Up and down our lineup, everyone contributed and that’s something you need.”
Katie Roberts grounded out to third base, scoring Simpson to cap the scoring.
That was more than enough support for Brown, who pitched all 7 innings, allowed 3 hits with 9 strikeouts. Just one Doniphan runner reached third base in the game.
“She’s just a bulldog,” Wengert said. “She doesn’t change speed all that much, it’s kind of like Lance Lynn in that here it is, try to hit it. That’s the type of performance we expect from her every time out.”
However, it certainly didn’t look as if the game would end up as one sided as it turned out to be as the Pirates left several opportunities go to waste in the early innings.
Simpson and Katie Roberts walked to begin the game and Huber doubled to center to give Perryville the 2-0 lead. But that was all the Pirates could muster as Doniphan Gracen Kirby struck out the side to end the threat. The Pirates would once again had a runner on third, but could not score.
“It’s just nerves,” Wengert said, ”We made the adjustment in the second and third times through the lineup and did our damage there.”
The game was played on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University as a central location between Doniphan and Perryville. Wengert said the experience was a good one for him and his team.
“Many of these girls will not play past their high school days so to play in a college atmosphere is a great thing,” Wengert said. “[SEMO] coach Redburn has been a great host and he gets to sit back and watch some softball and maybe find a player or two today. It’s all about getting these girls exposure. Hopefully we ca play more games here in the future.”
The Pirates will continue their season today at Jackson, starting at 4:30 p.m. The Pirates started the season with a victory one year ago, before losing their next three games.
“I think there’s a comfort level there this year and I think that we have 12 quality girls that I can play and know we have a chance to win,” Wengert said. “Our schedule does us no favors, but we want to keep this roll going.”