PANAMA CITY BEACH — Arnold’s Sarah Robertson and Miranda Smith are evidence of the disconnect between sabermetrics and what some observers would describe as the ol’ eye test.
After all, there is no statistical category for a player’s comfort at the plate attributed to a teammate batting immediately ahead of or behind the other in the lineup.
The Marlins’ Nos. 3 and 4 hitters in the batting order, respectively, Robertson and Smith reached base four times apiece and combined for six runs scored and six runs batted in during Arnold’s 14-0 romp over Rutherford in the Bay County softball tournament at the Mike Gavlak Sports Complex.
Arnold will play Mosley — a 13-0 winner over Bay on the same field Thursday night — at 6 p.m. Friday in the tournament’s championship game.
Smith followed a Robertson single in the top of the first inning with a towering drive over the fence in center field to spot the Marlins a quick 2-0 lead, and a Robertson sacrifice fly in the third increased Arnold’s lead to 3-0.
Both players walked and scored as part of a five-run fifth inning in which the Marlins sent 11 players to the plate and put the game out of reach.
Arnold capped the game with a six-run seventh inning. Robertson walked with the bases loaded to drive in a run, and Smith followed with a two-run single to left field. Ashley Gerkin contributed with a two-run triple in the inning, and Cassidy Skipper had an RBI single to provide the final margin.
“They’re going to put the ball in play,” Arnold coach Rick Green said. “Sarah, as great a hitter as she is, when we put Miranda behind her they can’t pitch around her.”
Robertson, a 17-year-old junior, has verbally committed to play for former U.S. Olympian Dot Richardson at Liberty University. Smith, a 16-year-old sophomore, said Robertson’s presence has a trickle-down effect in the lineup.
“When Sarah is up to bat, it makes me more comfortable when she gets a hit or gets on base,” Smith said. “It makes me think I can get a hit, too.”
Added Robertson: “I know when I get on that (Smith) will always move me around. She’s a great (cleanup) hitter. ... When Miranda’s on, I know she’s going to knock the crap out of the ball.”
Smith finished 3 for 4 with three RBIs, and Robertson was 1 for 1 with three walks and two RBIs. Gerkin had two hits and drove in four runs, and Aubrey Mulford, Shelby Ramsay and pinch-hitter Olivia Quave contributed with bases-loaded walks in the fifth.
Taylor Stalnaker was 2 for 3 for the Rams, who left the bases loaded in the fourth and missed a chance to score against Arnold hurler Emily Sowell.
Sowell scattered seven hits over seven innings and struck out four.
Green said Arnold is seeking its second county tournament title in three years. He acknowledged that Mosley’s pitching depth is a concern.
“They have three pitchers they can go to at any time,” he said. “We have no idea who we’ll face. What we have to do is what we did tonight and that’s make them throw strikes.”
Dana Edmundson and Sarah Roberson each verbally committed to Chipola on Wednesday.
Arnold 201 050 6 — 14 10 0
Rutherford 000 000 0 — 0 7 1
Sowell (W) and Gerkin; Barron (L), Connatser (5) and Pledger.
Mosley 13, Bay 0
The Dolphins advanced to the championship game behind an 11-run first inning, taking advantage of six Bay errors in the opening inning.
Kiana Yangson was 4 for 4 with a double, two runs scored and four runs batted in for the Dolphins. Laney Haynes was 2 for 2 with three RBIs, and Katie Lopes scored two runs for Mosley.
Dolphin pitchers Jill Johnson and Haynes combined on a one-hitter. Johnson struck out two in two innings, and Haynes struck out four in three innings.
MacKenzie Wolffer had the Tornadoes’ lone hit.