BY GENE NARDI
Wellington High School’s softball squad traveled Wednesday, March 1 to take on rival Seminole Ridge High School and held on to win 9-4.
With the victory, the Wolverines improved to 5-1 on the season. Both teams entered the game with only one loss each, but the Hawks (3-2) had difficulty containing Wellington’s offense in the later innings.
Both teams struggled early on, suffering from multiple errors in the infield. Wellington did manage to take an early two-run lead in the top of the first inning from Bailey Cain’s two-run RBI single. The Hawks had several opportunities to take advantage of early Wolverine errors but failed to send anybody across the plate, and Wellington took Seminole Ridge into the second inning with the 2-0 lead.
Wellington then added another run to extend its lead to 3-0. Seminole Ridge loaded the bases in the second with just one out on the board. Taylor Pennica hit an RBI single to cut the margin to 3-1 for the Hawks. The Wolverines buckled down on defense, though, and closed the second inning surrendering just the single run.
In the top of the third inning, the Wolverines delivered a blow to the Hawk defense. Sarah Longley, a University of Florida commit, launched one over the fence in left field that extended Wellington’s lead to 4-1. It was Longley’s third home run in two games.
“It feels great to help my team out,” Longley said. “I just hit it; you can’t overthink it.”
The Hawks clawed back in the bottom of the third inning. With the bases loaded again, Mackenzie Marino hit an RBI single to chip into the Wellington lead, 4-2. Kailey Martin then hit a sacrifice fly ball to bring in a run for the Hawks and bring them within one, but the Wolverines did enough on defense to close the inning holding on to a 4-3 lead.
The fourth inning was all defense by both teams, which closed it out scoreless. Wellington then began to open up offensively. In the fifth inning, Longley hit a single then stole second base; she took third on a Hawk overthrown ball. Katie Schmidt struck a single that brought in Longley for Wellington to go up 5-3.
Thea Whitty hit a single to bat in a run that lifted Wellington to a 6-3 lead in the top of the sixth inning. The Wolverines poured on three more runs later in the inning to go up 9-3.
The Hawks needed a big showing in the seventh inning, and it started on all cylinders for them when Paytyn Hazelton connected with the ball and drove it into deep center field for a double. Cammie Hamilton stroked a single to close the gap for the Hawks, but Wellington’s defense stepped up and closed the contest out with the 9-4 win.
“We scored four out of the seven innings, so offensively we were fine,” Wellington coach Mark Boretti said. “We have to be a better team focused on defense and we’ll be fine; we have a good team.”
Both teams were on break this week and will resume play next week.
ABOVE: Wellington’s Sarah Longley slides into home plate to add to the Wolverines’ score.