Winters Mill wasted no time stringing hits together and get an early edge over Manchester Valley.
The Falcons scored five runs in the first inning, sparked by a grand slam from junior infielder Megan Harman, and the team used its vigorous defense to defeat the Mavericks 9-3 on Friday.
The Mavericks have gotten the best of WM in recent years, but the Falcons decided to change things up in the team's first meeting of the 2018 season.
"They have beat us in the past and I think we know going into it they have some really good hitters and good field players," Harman said. "They're just an all-around good team and a lot of our players play with their players on our travel teams so we're getting out there, we have to hammer down on them early, go full force."
The bases were loaded before in the first when Harman she a ball flying through to centerfield, untouched by the Mavs' defense. Teammates Ansley Annable, Maddie Fawley and Lauren Wiley each scored, and gathered Harman in a hug when she crossed home plate.
Man Valley's Taylor Knatz led off with a double in the third inning. and came around to score for Man Vall's first run.
Both teams couldn't get a rhythm of hits going through the third and fourth innings. Mavericks sophomore Kassidy Johnson and senior Megan Cappadora connected with a pair of outs in the third inning and would utilize their positions to hold off the Falcons through five more plays in the game.
The Falcons scored four more runs in the sixth inning — a credit to Megan Alisauckas' RBI single that brought in two baserunners. Man Valley's Jazmyn Gouge led off at the bottom of the seventh with a single, followed by Olivia Christopher, a pinch hitter for Shelby Davis.
Jacquelyn Gouge drove in a run after the Mavs got two outs. Gouge and Christopher both came home to bring the Mavs within six, 9-3.
Deniker struck out four batters as the Falcons improved to 5-3, 5-1 in the county.
"One of the things we've really focused on is everyone does their job," WM coach Felicia Knill said. "It's not one person that's going to win the game for us, it's a combination of everybody on the team and we're going to have to work together. It's the style of softball we're playing at this point and it's made great teammates and helped not just on they field, but they get along off the field and they do great things."
The Mavericks (2-5, 1-4) lost a few key seniors from last year's team and coach Mike Hernandez said the girls are young and they're still learning how to play with one another. The team is dealing with some injuries, he added, but they're working together to look at the long distance picture.
"[Winters Mill] scored five runs in the first inning and we spotted them by a couple, plus they had a couple nice hits," Hernandez said. "The last few games we've played in a hole from the beginning. We've had to play catch-up and when you're playing a good team like Winters Mill, it's hard to play catch-up. Their lineup's strong and their defense, that left-sided defense is hard to beat. Good thing is, they don't quit so they're in it to the end and that's all I can ask of them."