Defense sparks Bellaire past Bridgeport girls

BELLAIRE – “Defense wins ball games,” the quote may not be enlightening or original but Bellaire softball coach Melissa Lahna had to credit her fielders for turning in a stellar performance en-route to a 3-0 decision over visiting Bridgeport.

“Morgan (Runyan) made a huge play for us behind second base.” Lahna complimented. “The team played sound defense and made some good plays to throw out runners and preserve the lead.”

“All of their runs came off of errors,” Bridgeport (3-2) coach Tom Joseph admitted. “We only gave up three hits and we had the opportunity we wanted to tie it up in the sixth, all we needed was a key hit and we just could not get it today.”

The Lady Bulldogs’ Keri Renzler singled aboard in the first inning and Caitlin Kroll singled with two outs to set up the first scoring opportunity for Joseph’s squad.

Bellaire (5-1) freshman hurler Sarah McAninch got out the jam with a four pitch strike out to end the threat. “Sarah is just a freshman but in four starts this season she has shown a lot of maturity and has yet to walk a batter.” Lahna said.

The Big Reds lead off hitter Dallas Messenger struck out but reached first base on an error in the bottom of the first inning. Then with two out Mary Garloch notched her first RBI single to plate Messenger who had stolen second to set the table.

The Bulldogs went in order the next two innings then in the third inning it was a case of deja vu for Joseph as once again Renzler led off beating out a throw to first base on a dropped strike three then Garloch repeated her first frame feat driving her teammate home with a single to make it 2-0 Big Reds.

Bridgeport would set the side down in order in the next two innings and the defensive effort transferred over to the offense as they stranded a runner in the fifth then in the sixth seemed like they had found their bats.

Dustyne Cargnel led off the inning with a single and Renzler legged out a bunt to put the tying run at first.

Freshmen are Miranda Bowers bunted the runners into scoring position and the Bulldogs number four hitter at the plate. Kroll did not reach base on an infield hit and then Runyan preserved the shut out with a running catch into left field from her second base position to end the inning.

Bellaire got an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth as Garloch reached on an error when a hot grounder handcuffed an infielder. Abby Cusick drew a walk then freshman Kelsey Jarvis ripped an RBI single to send Garloch across the dish.

“Softball can be unpredictable,” Joseph said. “It is almost certain though, that you will not win if you don’t string together hits and you make that many errors.”

Both teams have young rosters and both coaches are looking forward to another competitive contest when Bellaire travels to Bridgeport later in the season.

Bridgeport had six hits and committed six errors while Bellaire had three runs on three hits and no errors.

Bridgeport 000 000 0-0 6 6

Bellaire 101 001 -3 4 0

Bpt-Bower lp (11K, 1W) and Kroll. Renzler 2S,

Bell-McAninch wp (3K, 0W) and Messenger. Garloch 2S, 2 rbi, Jonas S, rbi

Palmer can be reached at mpalmer@timesleader-online.com