Round robin tourney this weekend
SPRINGFIELD — Port St. Joe had a freshman pitcher throwing to an eighth-grader catcher, and an eighth-grader playing third base on Tuesday night against Rutherford.
And it had the more experienced softball team.
It showed during an 11-4 victory that spoiled the Rams’ home opener and improved the Tiger Sharks to 2-0. Rutherford is 1-4.
Freshman pitcher Brooke Zinker pitched a three-hitter with 11 strikeouts as Port St. Joe wasn’t really threatened after scoring three runs in the top of the first inning.
The Tiger Sharks didn’t hit the ball out of the infield against Rutherford freshman starting pitcher Kaitlyn Wollenzien while forging that cushion. It only figured that more runs would follow once they did, and they soon were.
Five different players knocked in runs for Port St. Joe with senior Hannah Lee collecting four RBIs, three of them on a bases-loaded double off the base of the fence in center field.
Eighth-grade catcher Erica Ramsey had two hits, reached four times and scored four runs for the Tiger Sharks. She’ll likely move to third base when last year’s catcher Brooklyn Quinn returns from Lakeland, where she was playing for Port St. Joe in the Class 1A girls basketball state tournament this week.
"We’ve got a young team," Port St. Joe coach Jim Belin stated the obvious. "We’re just trying to keep moving forward."
The Tiger Sharks had 10 hits off Wollenzien, a 14-year-old transfer from Wisconsin who also fit nicely into the evening’s youth movement theme. Wollenzien fanned seven and walked only two. The major setback was a defense that made 11 errors behind her on mostly routine plays.
"We’ve got four girls starting who have never played competitive softball at any level," Rutherford coach David Barron said. "That’s what happens when you have no feeder program.
"For many of them this is their first experience and it’s coming on the varsity."
Pharielle Koonce stroked an RBI single in the bottom of the first inning that scored Joydon Westinghouse to get the Rams within 3-1.
Koonce added a two-run double in the sixth that plated Westinghouse, who had walked, and Wollenzien, who reached on an infield single.
That also enabled the Rams to avoid the 10-run mercy rule as they rallied within 11-3 after six innings and Tia Sharpe scored an unearned run in the seventh for the final.
Zinker added two hits and an RBI for the Tiger Sharks, Carley Fortner knocked in two runs and Abby Todd, the other eighth-grader in the lineup, had two hits and scored a run.