The St. James softball team (1-1) opened their season with a pair of games against Salem and Vienna on Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 27-28. The Lady Tigers opened the season with a great 11-7 win over Salem, before taking a tough 12-5 loss on Tuesday in their home opener.
The Lady Tigers got out to a strong start in their opener against Salem, scoring four runs in the top of the first inning. Salem came back with two runs in the bottom of the frame, before scoring another run in the second. St. James padded their lead with a run in the fifth, before Salem tied the game in the bottom of the inning.
The sixth inning came and went without a run from either team, but the seventh inning was an exclamation point for St. James. The Lady Tigers smacked in six runs in the top of the inning on their way to the win. Salem scored twice in the bottom of the inning, but St. James shut the comeback down to hold onto an 11-7 win.
Audrey Marcee toed the rubber for St. James, pitching all seven innings in the win. She allowed seven runs, but only three were earned over that span. Marcee struck out seven batters, while allowing eight hits and walking four.
Marcee also gave herself a ton of help at the plate, smacking in seven runs on three hits. She had a double and a triple in the win, while scoring twice. Alyssa Doris and Baylee Ambrose each drove in a run, with Ambrose collecting two base hits and scoring twice and Dorris scoring once on one base hit. Scout Paulus and Hunter Pitts each had two hits and two runs scored with Pitts adding a pair of steals. Mikaela Donnelly added a hit and two walks, scoring twice and stealing a base. As a team, St. James collected 12 hits in the win.
"With the loss of scrimmages and field time due to inclement weather we definitely had some unknowns going into our first game. However, we did a great job coming out of the gate. Able to plate four runs in the first set an upbeat tone for the rest of the game," said head coach Brad Purvis. "Our first five batters reached base with four of the five hitting their way on. The bats stayed alive thought out most of the order and game. We did a great job of not trying to overdo at the plate. Consistently put the ball in play, got key hits in key situations and took advantage of a few defensive miscues by Salem.
"Defensively, we pitched and played a clean game. Thought we did a great job working out of a few jams and minimizing the damage. The few times we bent we didn't break which helped our cause to get the win," continued the St. James head coach. "Audrey Marcee had a phenomenal game on the mound and at the plate. Fantastic job of getting ahead in the count in the circle, hitting spots and limiting free passes. Had a monster night at the plate going 3-4 with a single, double, triple and finishing with seven RBI. In my 12 years of coaching I can not recall such a feat of a player being this dominant on both sides of the ball. A career night for her."
The Lady Tigers couldn't keep their momentum going when they faced off against Vienna on Tuesday. The game was close through three innings, with Vienna holding onto a 5-4 lead. The Lady Eagles controlled the game from there, scoring once in the fourth, three in the fifth and another three runs in the seventh. St. James managed just one more run, scoring in the seventh, in a 12-5 loss.
Marcee took the circle for St. James again against Vienna. She allowed 12 runs, only six of which were earned in the loss. Marcee struggled with walks in the contest, allowing 14 Lady Eagles to reach base on balls. She also allowed nine hits, while striking out three.
Offensively, Donnelly did the heavy lifting with a home run and two RBI. Marcee added two hits, an RBI and a run scored at the plate, while Dorris also added an RBI. Paulus had two hits and scored three of St. James' five runs. Ambrose also added two hits in the loss.
"One of those games you reflect where most of the damage was self-inflicted," said coach Purvis "Defensively we committed eight errors. Combine that with too many free passes and you play most of the game with an uphill battle. Game could have gotten out of hand early, but able to work out of potential big innings keeping ourselves in the game to giving ourselves a chance. Not our best performance, but we often say we will learn forward and that's exactly what we will do. Lots more opportunity ahead in the season."
The Lady Tigers remain on their home field for their third game of the week when they host Belle on Friday, Aug. 31.