WENDELL — When two opposing pitchers are on top of their respective games, the slightest of errors may mean the difference between winning and losing.
The Corinth Holders softball team learned that lesson the hard way, dropping a 3-1 decision to visiting Cleveland Tuesday night with a key fourth-inning error leading to a pair of unearned runs that proved to be the difference.
Starting pitchers Taylor Drayton (Cleveland) and Kayla Meares (Corinth Holders) were in complete control for much of the night. However, the Rams seized their one good opportunity of the game in the top of the fourth.
A leadoff single from Brittany Bucklin was rewarded with a RBI single from Jodi Morgan for a 1-0 Cleveland lead.
Then, with two runners on base, a rundown situation ensued that resulted in an errant throw ending up in centerfield and two unearned runs in the form of Morgan and pinch runner Rachel Verrier coming in for a 3-0 Rams’ advantage.
“Tonight it was a defensive battle, plain and simple,” Corinth Holders assistant coach Greg Parrish said. “They had a good pitcher and we had a good pitcher.
“In a game like tonight, that one error, if it’s the right one, can kill you. It was the right one tonight.”
Kelsie Hocutt’s second double of the game (fifth of the season) scored Holly Price, who singled earlier, from second base to get one run back for the Pirates in the bottom of the inning.
That’s when Drayton dug in, however, and retired the next three Pirate batters in order to strand two runners and keep the Rams on top.
“Her pitches were working well although she was a little bit under the weather,” Cleveland coach Samantha Coats said of her star pitcher. “She worked really hard; she worked through sickness. She’s definitely one of our leaders.”
Drayton earned the complete game victory and allowed just four hits while striking out six batters.
Drayton’s counterpart was equally impressive in the circle as Meares also went the distance using her changeup in key situations to keep the Cleveland hitters guessing.
Five times Meares retired the side in order and she retired the final 10 batters she faced.
The Pirates fell to 0-3 (3-7 overall) in the Two Rivers 3A Conference but feel they are very much still in the thick of things.
“Right now, it’s more about the attitude if they want it because there are times when they feel down on themselves and there are times when they feel like they have it,” said Corinth Holders head coach Jessica Potter. “They’ve got to have that confidence in themselves and the team.”
As for the Rams, the victory was the sixth in their last seven outings and left Cleveland atop the conference at 3-0.
Coats credits the team’s commitment to improving and doing the little things right as being key to their success.
“We’re doing great,” Coats said. “They do what they need to do at practice, they do what they need to do in the games and it shows.”
Drayton and Morgan both went 2-of-3 at the plate for the Rams.