LYNN HAVEN — Two offenses heading in opposite directions changed course 180 degrees early in Mosley’s 5-0 softball win over Rutherford on Monday night.
The Dolphins, 3-2, had averaged only four runs per game in an early season dominated by postponements. They equaled that total in the home half of the first against Rutherford ace Becca Taylor.
That was more than enough support for junior right-hander Jill Johnson, who pitched a two-hit shutout against a Rams’ lineup that had been scoring runs in bunches.
The early outburst also set the tone for what followed, having a positive carryover for the Dolphins.
“It does, it lets us challenge hitters more and play safer on defense,” Mosley coach Brian Wilke said. “We can make them earn it.”
Johnson’s second commanding performance of the season was foreshadowed by a change-up that she used sparingly, but effectively. It was evidenced as early as the first inning, Johnson tossing an off-speed pitch to No. 3 hitter Taylor in a 3-1 count. She eventually made Taylor one of her six strikeout victims and didn’t walk a batter.
“She threw about 10 and I’d say all but two were strikes, and those were in the last inning or two,” Wilke said. “It sets up everything, especially her riseball and hard stuff.”
Rutherford, 6-2, didn’t have a response after falling behind 4-0. The Rams didn’t produce a baserunner until Taylor’s solid single to the opposite field with two outs in the fourth. Abbie Barron was the only other Rutherford batter to reach with a single leading off the seventh.
Taylor yielded just six hits while striking out six and walking two. Three of the runs against her were unearned, but the damage was done by the end of the first.
Graysen Gladden stroked an 0-2 pitch for an opposite-field single to lead off and stole second. One out later, she scored when Selena Estrada drilled a single to left field, Estrada taking second on the throw.
Freshman Laney Haynes walked with two outs and the inning was extended when Andrea McKenzie reached on a throwing error. It was the lone error of the game, but enabled Estrada to score and Haynes to reach third.
McKenzie took second on catcher indifference and Katie Lopes sliced a two-run single into right field for the third and fourth runs.
The Dolphins managed only three more hits off Taylor, but one of them was Estrada’s solo home run in the third inning.
“We’re still having a hard time getting the big hits; we’re getting baserunners,” Wilke said. “The games we’ve lost we’ve had girls on, but just did get the big hit.”
Johnson was backed by errorless defense, third baseman Lopes handling five chances. Gladden made a nice running catch in center field on a fly ball hit by Kaylyn Julian to end the third, and shortstop Estrada retreated into the outfield and made a bobbling over-the-shoulder catch to rob Bridget Keasey leading off the fourth.
On batter later, Taylor drilled her opposite-field single and Paige Williamsen stroked a hard-hit ball to Gladden that ended the inning.
Wilke was hopeful the win will provide a springboard for the Dolphins, who are playing four games in four days.
“It’s always nice to start the week with a win,” he said, “especially against a quality team like Rutherford.”
Rutherford 000 000 0 – 0 2 1
Mosley 401 000 x – 5 6 0
B.Taylor (L) and Pledger; Johnson (W) and McKenzie.
LOB: Rutherord 2, Mosley 4. E: Rutherford (Keasey). HR: Estrada. SAC: Haynes. SB: Gladden, Gray. WP: Taylor.