PIKE CREEK – It took three days and two locations, but Padua and Concord finally kicked off their 2018 softball seasons March 27. When it was over, the Pandas were left standing with a 3-2 victory at the Midway Softball Complex on a cold afternoon, with just a bit of a drizzle mixed in for good measure.
Snow caused the game to be postponed from Friday, and a rescheduled date of Monday was wiped out because of wet field conditions at Concord. The teams moved to Padua’s home field to get the game in, and it worked out for the Pandas.
Padua wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, plating two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Leadoff hitter Brooke Emmi reached on an error and scored when Alex Musial blasted a one-out triple to right-center two batters later. Concord pitcher Sarah Raab got the second out on a strikeout, but Katie Twardowski brought Musial home with a single past the diving second baseman, Mary Plasmier.
The Raiders answered with one run of their own in the top of the second. Skye Lupi drilled a line-drive down the left-field line for a double, took third on a throwing error and scored on a two-out bloop single to center off the bat of Meg McCullin.
The bats for both teams were silent until the fifth, when the Pandas added a critical insurance run. Pinch-hitter Sarah Williams reached third base on a triple to the fence in right-center field, and she scored a few pitches later on a passed ball, just beating the tag of Raab.
The Raiders closed the gap to one run in their half of the sixth. Plasmier hit a check-swing double with one out, moved to third on a groundout and scored on an infield single by Kristin Carter. Padua pitcher Mel Grant shut the Raiders down in the seventh, inducing a ground ball and two popups. Grant caught the final out herself.
Musial said the team was able to use the extra time afforded by the weather delays to work on “the little things,” although they were limited to the school gymnasium.
“Working on the little things makes a big difference when you get to the games,” she said.
The Pandas got a boost from the news that broke in mid-afternoon that their principal, Cindy Mann, would be returning to the school after the Easter break. Mann had been fired March 16, setting off a whirlwind of activity around the school ever since. The team left school early because of the game, so they found out from their friends as they were on the way to the field.
“We definitely dedicated our game to her. Just play for her,” said Musial, one of several players to wear a pink ribbon in her hair in support of Mann.
Grant scattered six hits and struck out two to earn her first varsity win. Twardowski had two hits and an RBI for the Pandas. Padua (1-0) travels to Appoquinimink on Wednesday to meet the Lady Jags at 4 p.m.
Raab pitched well, giving up just six hits while striking out five. Six players each had a hit for the Raiders (0-1), who host Middletown Thursday at 3:45 p.m.