Scrimmages and preseason practices aren’t always the best barometer for regular-season success, particularly when getting time outside early in the spring is a struggle.
When Century and Westminster met Wednesday afternoon in their softball opener, the Knights and Owls had combined for seven postponements and their coaches lamented the lack of real preparation to start the year. The county rivals did their best to get things started, and Westminster pulled away with a 16-6 victory.
The Owls totaled 16 hits, and scored nine runs in the fifth inning to win by the 10-run rule.
Lexi Smith, a sophomore second baseman and Westminster’s leadoff batter, had four hits and scored three runs. Fellow sophomore Laura Tipton, the Owls’ third baseman, also scored three times and added a double and two RBIs.
The Owls turned a 7-6 lead into a romp when they sent 14 batters to the plate in the fifth, and Smith’s bases-loaded single with two outs brought home Alyssa Dixon and ended the game.
Junior center fielder Maddie Olexy scored three runs of her own for Westminster, which topped the reigning Carroll County Athletic League champs and perhaps made an offensive statement in late March.
“I’m very proud of our team,” Tipton said. “During the scrimmages we were really coming together. We just needed that [extra] time to come together and jell together as a team.”
Century had its moments at the plate too. The Knights erased a 4-0 deficit with four runs in the third inning. Arianna Diaz’s RBI groundout scored the tying run, but the Knights stranded a runner at third.
Century went ahead 6-5 in the fourth inning only to have Westminster jump back in front in its half of the frame, sparked by shortstop Jackie Coyle’s two-run double to left-center. The Owls then put the game out of reach in the fifth.
Gina Martin had two RBIs and Marissa Ehrman scored twice for the Knights, but coach Stephanie Haines said her girls didn’t play well enough to win.
“First game out … two scrimmages don’t really prepare you for our games,” said Haines, who used a pair of freshman pitchers in Hannah Zabik and Megan Hollander. “It’s hard getting on the field this early, but that’s no excuse. You’ve still got to hit the ball, still got to field the ball. [Westminster] hit the ball like crazy.”
The Owls’ scoring surge was a welcome sight for coach April Sexton, whose team had four games washed out prior to Wednesday’s contest. Sexton said not getting a chance to get outside hampered Westminster in its scrimmages, so she liked her team’s approach when it counted.
“Our bats came alive, good solid hits,” Sexton said. “Once we were able to get a real ball and throw the ball … we were careful being back inside the last couple times when we were rained out. Mostly hitting practice, we did do some infield. But trying to not use that rubber ball inside too much.”
Westminster went 7-5 in CCAL play last spring before making a playoff run all the way to University of Maryland, site of the state championship games. The Owls fell short of their second Class 3A state title in three seasons, then lost a few key contributors — led by reigning Times Player of the Year Olivia Herman — to graduation.
But Tipton and Smith said those who returned, along with a few new faces, are motivated to go after another crown.