Seton Keough starting pitcher Robi Zimmerman knew when she took the mound against rival Mount de Sales at home on Thursday afternoon she would be locked up in a tight game.
So did Mount de Sales coach Pete Waskiewicz.
After all, both meetings in 2011 with the Gators ended in one-run losses for the Sailors.
So did the first confrontation of 2012, as the Gators prevailed, 2-1 on Thursday.
"Every time we come out and play against them we are never expecting a blowout on either side," Zimmerman said. "We always expect a close game."
All the scoring came in the first inning.
Mount de Sales second hitter Emma Mires punched a leadoff single down the left field line with one out.
She advanced to second on a wild pitch and, after Ronnie Rittie walked, moved to third.
She scored on a hot one-hopper that Gator first baseman Julia Draper knocked down and tagged Abby Zalucki.
Jessica Jurney nearly produced the second RBI of the inning when her hot smash hit off Zimmerman, but it caromed to second baseman Amber Cosgrove and she tossed her out.
Zimmerman regrouped after the inning and didn't allow another run, while notching all five of her strikeouts and yielding only three more hits.
"In the first inning I was overthrowing a little bit and putting pressure on myself, but I settled down and just hit my spots from then on out," Zimmerman said.
Sailor junior Ashley Lesniewski reached on an infield hit and advanced to second after a wild throw with one out in the third, but she was stranded on ground outs to third baseman Tiffany Kahl and Zimmerman.
The Sailors threatened again in the fourth when Lori Sena roped a two-out double, but Zimmerman retired the final hitter on another ground out.
In the fifth, the Sailors came closest to tying the score after Rittie had a one-out hit and was sacrificed to second by Zalucki.
Jurney followed with a screaming liner to left field that was snared by sophomore Allison Clampitt.
"That ball got out there quick, but she made a nice play on it," said Waskiewicz, whose 2011 squad lost seven one-run games.
"Losing 2-1 really gets old — when we just can't score that run," Waskiewicz said. "Somebody has to step up and get that hit."
Seton Keough got all the clutch hitting they needed in the first inning against Sailor starter Lesniewski.
Bridget O'Malley singled and advanced to second on an outfield misplay.
She scored two batters later on a sacrifice fly to center field by Zimmerman.
"I just needed to put the ball in play and find a place to put it where we could get that run and get back in the swing of things and tie the game and go from there," Zimmerman said.
They got going with two outs in the first when Hannah Tavik walked and scored on Kahl's lofted double to right field.
Lesniewski allowed only three more hits and no runs, while walking none in the final five innings.
"Ashley kept us in the game," said Waskiewicz, whose squad dropped to 6-4.
The Gators improved to 6-1, but Zimmerman and coach Chuck Snee know why they keep winning the close games.
"My defense is awesome," Zimmerman said. "They make all the plays. Any game that I win, I can't do it without them. I'm not going to strike out a lot so I really rely on my defense 100 percent."
"Our defense has got to be our strength right now because we are not hitting the ball the way we should," Snee said.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun