WASHINGTON — An early record of 0-3 for the Washington High School softball team nearly evened up after a sweep of Southeast Conference rival Mt. Pleasant Thursday night.
The Demons won a close one 8-5 in the opener, then sprinted to a quick 12-0 win in the nightcap. The Panthers have a mark of 1-3.
“The first win of the season is always the toughest to get,” Washington coach Bern Obermann said. “I think the first couple nights, we were putting a little too much pressure on ourselves, but that’s just because we have girls that want to perform well so badly. We just needed to relax and believe in ourselves and our capabilities.”
The Panthers led 1-0 and 3-0 and 4-2 before Washington tied it at 4-4 and 5-5, then a three-run sixth was the difference. the second game saw a 5-0 first-inning lead, a one-run second then six runs in the third ended the game on the mercy rule.
“It was nice to see our quality approaches at the plate return and reap the benefits as a result,” Obermann said. “Once we were able to start scoring, it allowed us to relax and play the way we’re capable of playing, especially offensively.”
Cara Linnenkamp had three hits, including a double and four runs batted in for the Demons in the opener. Mt. Pleasant’s stats were not provided.
“Softball is such a mental game, and if you don’t see the results, it can be a tough game psychologically, but our girls have committed to the process and (Thursday) they were rewarded by trusting the process,” Obermann said. “This could be a spring board for us moving forward.”
It certainly provided a spring for the second game as eight of the nine lineup spots furnished at least one hit. Kinsey Duwa and Cameron Malichky each had a triple while Kellie Dallmeyer had two doubles.
Alexa Mitchell pitched five-inngs for the opening win, allowing five hits, one earned run, six walks and two strikeouts. Linnenkamp threw the last two innings with no walks, no hits, two strikeouts, then did not allow a hit in her three-inning win. She walked two and fanned three.
“Overall, we still have some things to improve on defensively, but we’re starting to see solid improvement,” Obermann said. “The girls know what we need to work on fundamentally and our practices have been outstanding. If we continue to focus on those little things, you will start to see some more consistency defensively. We began to see that. We made a few early errors, but recovered to play solid defense. The free bases we allowed as a whole was a vast improvement from the first two nights of games.”
Although they dropped from the rankings, the sweep of Mt. Pleasant helped soothe any regrets.
“It’s always great to beat Mt. Pleasant,” Obermann said. “Not just because they’re considered our rival, but because they are a well-coached team and a team that is always going to compete and play hard. To win two games, we knew we had to compete and play with a high level of confidence, which we did. We’ve had a lot of battles with them the past several years, and Game 1 was a typical back-and-forth game between us.”
The Demons have not won consecutive games against the Panthers since 2014 when they swept a doubleheader. Mt. Pleasant won 12 consecutive games from 2015-18 but a 7-2 Demon win June 28 broke that skid.