Unfortunately for the Lady Eagles, that would be anything but indicative of how the game would actually play out.
“The first inning we got three up, three down and we were happy,” Mt. Zion coach Millie Grimes said. “Then they got the bats going and they really hit the ball.”
Trion would pound out 17 hits over the next four innings, as every Lady Bulldog starter had at least one base knock, including six with multiple-hit performances in the 14-1, five-inning Region 6-A road victory over Mt. Zion.
The Lady Eagles, who defeated Landmark 7-0 on Monday, struggled at the plate Tuesday, connecting on just four base hits against Trion starter Haven Hobbs - two of which came in the first inning.
“I mean, they’ve got a good pitcher, but we ought to be able to do better than that,” Grimes said. “We’re young, but I believe we ought to do better than (four) hits. I didn’t think (Hobbs) was that overpowering. She’s good, but we ought to hit her.”
It was an entirely different feeling in the other dugout. Trion coach Jeff Bennett was obviously quite pleased with his team’s approach at the plate.
“We came out swinging the bats (Tuesday),” Bennett said. “That’s the first time in a long time we’ve done that. We haven’t swung the bats that well in a long time. We’ve got to keep this up, we’ve got a big ball game Thursday against Bremen.”
After going down in order in the first, Trion (7-7, 2-1 Region 6-A) scored one run in the second following a lead-off double from Lindsay Pettyjohn, a sacrifice fly from Carly McGraw and an RBI single by Suzannah Eubanks.
And while McIntosh got out of the second relatively still in good shape, the Lady Bulldogs strung together seven straight hits with one out in the third, resulting in a five-run inning, making it a 6-0 contest.
The Lady Eagles (5-9, 0-3 Region 6-A) answered back with a run in the bottom half of the third, as Kirstin Webb drove home courtesy-runner Brooke Freeman - who was running for catcher Mandy Windom, who singled - with a one-out double.
Windom injured her finger sliding back into first during the inning with what Grimes said appeared to be a dislocated pinky. Windom toughed it out, though, and returned to the game to catch in the top of the fourth with what Grimes described as a “crooked” finger.
“Thank goodness,” Grimes said. “Because our other catcher is the one that got the ACL torn and is out for the season. We’d been grasping for straws.”
With Webb now in to pitch for Mt. Zion, the Lady Bulldogs took advantage of several Lady Eagle errors in the fourth to tack on four more runs - only one of which was earned - to make it a 10-1 game.
The hit parade continued in the fifth, with five more hits and four additional runs from Trion, making it a 14-1 contest.
Hobbs retired Mt. Zion 1-2-3 in both the fourth and fifth innings.
“My pitcher did a great job,” Bennett said. “Haven threw strikes and that’s what we strive for and we hope that our defense and bats will come around.”
Hobbs fanned six, didn’t walk any and allowed just the one run on four hits.
McIntosh suffered the loss, working three innings, allowing six runs on nine hits and fanning one.
Webb tossed two innings of relief, allowing eight hits, eight runs - five earned - while fanning three and walking none.
Offensively, Webb led the Lady Eagles, going 2-for-2 with a double and an RBI, while Jasmine Puckett (1-for-3) and Windom (1-for-3) accounted for the other two hits.
Pettyjohn (3-for-3, 2 2B, RBI, SB, 4 runs) led Trion at the plate, while Eubanks (3-for-4, 2 2B), Alexa Rush (2-for-3, 2B, 3 runs, 3 RBI, SB), McGraw (2-for-3, 3 RBI), Morgan Blanchard (2-for-3, 2B, 2 runs, SB) and Jessi Bryant (2-for-4, 2 RBI, 2 runs, SB) also had solid offensive efforts.
The win pits Trion in a two-way tie for second with Bremen for second place in Region 6-A at 2-1 heading into Thursday’s contest.
Bennett said every one will be gunning for Gordon Lee, the perennial region favorite.
“Each year, it’s us, Gordon Lee, Bremen and Bowdon always fighting it out,” Bennett said. “Excel and Mt. Zion’s in our region now, but usually Gordon Lee’s the one everyone’s wanting to beat. They’re No. 1 and we’re all shooting to beat them.”
In the Lady Eagles’ 7-0 road win over Landmark Monday, Puckett (2-for-3, 3 runs), Alex Corn (2-for-3, RBI) and Carly McWhorter (1-for-3, 4 RBI) led the offense, which Grimes said still struggled despite the seven runs it put up.
“We still didn’t hit,” Grimes said. “It was a totally different type of pitcher. I think we may have had six or seven hits. We’re just not hitting all the way through the lineup with any consistency.”
And she said that will definitely need to change by Thursday if the Lady Eagles have any thoughts of upsetting Gordon Lee on the road.
“We’ll just keep plugging away,” Grimes said. “Region 6-A is a very, very tough region.”