GREENVILLE — A dominating pitching performance from Ally Russell led the Greenville softball team to a 2-0 victory against Hamilton Badin on Monday in the Lady Wave’s season opener.
Russell led Greenville by shutting down Badin as she tallied 17 strikeouts while giving up just one hit and one walk in the Lady Wave’s season-opening victory to move to 1-0 on the year.
“Great game out of Russell,” Greenville softball coach Jerrod Newland said. “She threw well and you know kept us in it. We made four, five defensive plays when we needed it and put the ball in play a little bit and come out on top.”
The adage that pitching is ahead of hitting early in a season was evident on Monday as Russell struck out nine batters in the first three innings for the Lady Wave. One runner reached base in the top of the first on a Lady Wave error and one reached in the second on a walk, but Greenville stranded both of them.
Meanwhile, Greenville got off to a strong offensive start in the first inning. After a two-out single to left field by Jazzlyn Petry, Haleigh Luce drove her in with a RBI double to give the Lady Wave a 1-0 lead in the opening frame.
“Today Russell, Petry and Luce pounded the ball,” Newland said. “They hit the ball hard and sharp three times.”
Badin’s best offensive opportunity game in the top of the fourth inning as the Rams got a leadoff triple. But a pair of groundouts and a strikeout left the runner stranded at third and preserved the 1-0 Greenville lead.
“That was huge,” Newland said of his team’s defensive effort. “You score 90 percent of the time when you reach third with no outs.”
Greenville tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Sara Strait reached on an error as the Badin pitcher and first baseman collided on a popup, and she advanced to second on a grounder by Makayla Hanes. Russell then drove in Strait with a double, increasing Greenville’s lead to 2-0 and giving the Lady Wave a bit of a cushion.
Greenville held Badin scoreless the rest of the game, culminating with Russell’s 17th strikeout of the day to finish off the 2-0 victory.
“They were 25-3 last year,” Newland said. “We were 25-and-something last year. Two good teams teeing it up. I knew it would be a one-, two-nothing game.”
Russell did a great job to pitch out of a couple jams, Newland said, and started the season off really strong.
“She’s going to keep us in a lot of ballgames, and obviously she’s going to push us through a couple times and did today,” he said.
Badin had no runs on one hit and two Greenville errors. Greenville had two runs on five hits and one Badin error.
If Greenville can continue to get some big hits and strong defense to go along with Russell’s strong pitching, it will be another strong season for the Lady Wave, Newland said.
“Russell is going to keep us in a lot of games,” he said. “If we can score a few runs and make plays behind her, I love where we’re at and where we’re going. It’s a good team this year with a lot of young kids and new faces. We’re going to mix 12 kids in there throughout the year and going to be playing in June.”
Greenville now is 13-1 on opening days in Newland’s 12 seasons leading the Lady Wave, which includes a pair of doubleheaders the past two years. It’s a step in the right direction, Newland said, as his team finally got the season started after having its previously scheduled opener postponed Saturday because of weather.
“I think it’s about a 50-pound weight off a lot of people’s shoulders because it’s just excited to get started,” Newland said. “Not just for the players and coaches but the fans in the community. It’s just a breath of fresh air to get out here.”
Greenville continues the season Tuesday at Wright State as the Lady Wave take on Lebanon.