By Justin Heinzer
Hits were at a premium in Tuesday’s non conference intra-county varsity softball game between visiting Union Mine and Oak Ridge but the Lady Trojans outlasted the Diamondbacks to claim a 3-1 victory over their former league opponent.
Oak Ridge starting pitcher Kasey Stanchek surrendered just one hit and one earned run while striking out 16 batters in six innings. Teammate and first-baseman Jenessa Jeppesen sparked the Trojan offense with two hits and three RBIs, highlighted by a line drive home run over the right-center field fence.
Union Mine starting pitcher Tori McLaury kept the Diamondbacks in the game, going seven innings strong while giving up just four hits with five strikeouts. But the hard-throwing Stanchek kept Union Mine’s offense in check all afternoon as the D’backs struggled to piece together a late-game rally.
“I like the way we competed. That’s a high class pitcher over there,” said Union Mine Coach Rob Diggle of Stanchek’s outing.
In the bottom of the first the Trojans got lead-off hitter and second baseman Lauren Bertoy to first on a hit-by-pitch. After advancing on a stolen base and a wild pitch, Bertoy waltzed home on Jeppesen’s ground ball single to give Oak Ridge the early margin.
Union Mine answered in the second with third-basman Amy Pedretti’s RBI single that evened the game at one apiece. This was the last hit allowed by Stanchek as she settled down and allowed just one base runner in the next five innings.
In the third, Trojan shortstop Jackie Schmaeling ricocheted a well-hit ground ball off McLaury’s glove for an infield hit, setting the table for Jeppesen’s two-run homer that proved to be the difference in a ballgame dominated by quality pitching and solid defense.
“Defensively we played well — and with a lot of young kids, too. It was exciting to see the kids come out and play relaxed,” Troy’s assistant coach Mike McCauley said.
Oak Ridge heads next to the Victory Pre-Season Tournament in Sacramento before officially joining the Delta River League when it opens against local rival Ponderosa.
“Our goal is the win league every year. The competition has gone up a degree but we set the same goal and that is to get first place,” McCauley said.