After mustering one hit through 5 2/3 innings as a team against Glenelg Wednesday, Marriotts Ridge junior captain Mikayla Barnard wiped away the offensive ineptitude with one swing — a two-run homer to propel Marriotts Ridge past host Glenelg, 4-1.
Barnard knew she got ahold of one, but she kept her head down as she raced out of the batter’s box, attempting to upstart any sort of momentum that lacked on the base path.
Digging around first base, and with her coaches and teammates screaming from the dugout behind her, Barnard lifted her head to catch a glimpse of her frozen-rope shot that whizzed down the left field foul line. The ball hooked and hooked some more, but it never went out of play, and as soon as it tucked behind the outfield fence, Barnard thrusted both hands to the sky and the Mustangs’ bench ignited.
“As soon as I hit the ball, I knew something was going to happen,” Barnard said. “I felt the energy from the bench saying, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s over.’”
Along with the game-winning two-run shot, which gave Marriotts Ridge a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth inning, Barnard went a full seven innings on the mound, striking out eight and holding Glenelg to 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. She also surrendered six hits and three walks.
“She hit her spots,” said Marriotts Ridge coach Karyn Peksa. “Some of her pitches were on today, so that helped. Her home run came at a very crucial time to change the tide of the game. … She just led from the circle and took control of the game today.”
After giving up her lone run in the bottom of the first inning, Barnard produced her second and third strikeouts to escape a bases-loaded jam. She faced four batters in second inning before stranding two runners in the third and fourth innings. And then, after Glenelg’s Katie McIntyre ripped a lead-off double in the bottom of the fifth, Barnard once again got out of trouble.
“I just keep my mind in it,” Barnard said. “And to throw hard. That’s going to be my best bet, to throw hard.”
That’s when Barnard sent her decisive two-run blast down the left field foul line, and two batters later, Alex Lindahl singled home her sister, Romy Lindahl, to pad the Mustangs’ lead to 3-1. Barnard worked an eight-pitch 1-2-3 sixth inning before sealing Marriotts Ridge’s undefeated status within the county in the seventh.
Emma Meredith’s solo home run in the top of the seventh extended Marriotts Ridge's lead to 4-1.
Despite only having two seniors, the Mustangs weathered through adversity to remain atop the county standings.
“They were focused today,” Peksa said. “They were in it every pitch. They pick each other up. … We only have two seniors, but we have a strong group of girls who get along well on and off the field and I think that shows.”
Marriotts Ridge also turned in a pristine defensive performance that included no errors whole Glenelg had two. Samantha Miller also had a game-altering snag between first and second with two runners on base in the fourth inning.
“Overall, I thought we did a really good job making routine plays,” Miller said. “We were focused in warmups.”
Glenelg, meanwhile, left 11 runners on base and squandered numerous chances on the base paths.
Gladiators starter Amy Stetser went 5 2/3 innings, yielding four hits and one walk. Her three runs were unearned. Katie Dustin delivered the only RBI for Glenelg in the bottom of the first.
“That was my number one thing out there,” Glenelg coach Raymond Gerstner said of his 11 runners left on base. “It’s frustrating to leave them on base, but it gives us something to work harder at for the rest of the season and later on in practice. … We can sit and dwell, but there’s no need to. They’re ready to come out tomorrow and practice hard.”
Marriotts Ridge (4-0 county, 4-1 overall), Glenelg (3-1, 3-2)
MR — 0 0 0 0 3 1 4 6 0
G — 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 6 2
2B: MR — Romy Lindahl; G — Dustin, McIntyre.
3B: MR — Barnard, Meredith.