Stow-Munroe Falls softball opened the season in sharp, if dramatic, fashion March 29 at Weddle Park.
The Bulldogs got solid pitching, played good defense and got a walk-off winner to defeat Wadsworth 3-2 in the season opener for both teams.
A sacrifice fly by Stow third baseman Hanna Ingram plated the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning, after Wadsworth had rallied to tie the game in the top of the seventh.
Stow coach Doug Hawkins said the game was a quality start for Stow.
"They have it in their heads to play better this season and they did," Hawkins said. "Our defense played very well."
Hawkins noted his team needed to play some small ball on offense against Wadsworth starting pitcher Kim Crookston.
"We bunted the ball very well," Hawkins said. "We've been able to squeeze in the past. We had some good baserunning as well."
Indeed, speedy second baseman Jenna Stout had a big influence in her first varsity game for the Bulldogs.
Stout opened the second inning with a single off the second baseman's glove. She then stole second base and went to third on a sacrifice bunt by catcher Kenndi Cesnak.
Left fielder Gillian Holcomb then put a bunt down in front of the plate. Crookston decided to throw to the plate, but Stout slid home safe under the throw to make it 1-0.
Stout again was the catalyst for Stow in the bottom of the fourth inning, as she led off with a single to center. Cesnak followed with a single behind first base to put runners at the corners with no outs.
The Bulldogs then worked a perfect double steal, as Cesnak nabbed second and Stout again beat the throw home, making it 2-0 after four innings.
Stow starting pitcher Clara Borsilli was in command for the first six innings, limiting the Grizzlies to just three singles. One sign of Borsilli's effectiveness was the fact 15 of the 18 outs she recorded came off ground balls.
The Grizzlies, however, finally found their hitting stroke in the top of the seventh inning.
Crookston led off the inning with a double to the fence in center field, followed by an RBI single from catcher Maddi Long. Long moved to second base on the throw and then came home when right fielder Rynn Rench hit an RBI single, tying the game at 2-2.
"I was hoping to get Clara a complete game, but she just ran out of gas," Hawkins said. "Macie [Bell] came on and did a great job for us."
Borsello pitched six innings, allowed two earned runs on six hits with two strikeouts. She did not walk a batter.
After a single by Wadsworth second baseman Kaylin Hurrle, Bell (1-0) was facing runners at second and third with only out. However, she induced two straight ground outs to Ingram at third base to escape the jam.
Hawkins lauded his team for not getting down after giving up the lead.
In fact, Stow got right back to it, as right fielder Rachel Mosko led off the bottom of the seventh with a single to left. Designated player Lauren Keyser then put down a sacrifice bunt and center fielder Claire O'Verko singled to put runners on the corners.
O'Verko and Stout each had two singles for Stow.
That gave Ingram the chance to be the hero. Ingram hit a fly ball to deep center field, which was dropped by the center fielder. It ended up not mattering, as Mosko ended up tagging and scoring from third base to plate the winning run.
Stow was set to host Nordonia March 31, but results were not available at press time.
The Bulldogs will play a trio of Suburban League National Conference games this week. Stow travels to Twinsburg April 3 and visits Hudson on April 4 before returning home April 6 to take on Cuyahoga Falls. First pitch for all three games is at 4:30 p.m.