SPRINGFIELD — An Arnold Marlins team that made a deep run in the playoffs last spring is going to have to outhit the solid opponents on its schedule, at least in the early going this season, to approach the success of 2012.
Against Rutherford senior right-hander Becca Taylor Tuesday night, that wasn’t happening.
The West Florida commitment struck out 11 in five innings as the Rams cruised to an 11-0 mercy-rule victory in District 1-5A softball.
Taylor limited an Arnold lineup featuring three players who have signed college scholarships to two hits and struck out the side in the second, third and fifth innings as Rutherford cruised.
“She’s added a drop curve. She has six legitimate pitches,” Rutherford coach David Barron said of the four-year starter. “And she’s really conditioned herself.”
The Rams, 2-1, stroked 11 hits and already had scored 11 times in three innings, 10 runs needed to end the game prematurely.
The Marlins, 3-2, lost starting pitcher Shannon Godfrey who moved out of state, and basically have been forced to regroup in the pitcher’s circle. Godfrey tossed a vast majority of their innings last season while Arnold was winning 22 games.
Senior Jade Sankey started for Arnold, but couldn’t get through the third inning as Rutherford’s bottom of the order did a majority of the damage.
The Nos. 6-9 hitters — Kayla Whitaker, Micah Pledger, Paige Williamsen and Taylor Todd — already had seven hits and four runs batted while the third inning was in progress.
Half of the hits Sankey allowed didn’t leave the infield, but when her defense sprung a few leaks the rout took hold.
Whitaker, Pledger and Williamsen each had two hits, as did leadoff batter Bridget Keasey, and Williamsen led the Rams with three RBIs. Curstin Taylor added a two-run single.
Barron said he wasn’t surprised by the production lower in the lineup.
“Our 1 through 9 is tough, this year we feel like everybody in the lineup can hit,” he said. “We’ve been preaching line drives and ground balls and tonight that pretty much was what we did.”
Pledger, like Todd only a freshmen, hit the ball hard with two rockets to left field, one going for an RBI double. Williamsen added a double and seven Rams hit safely.
Rutherford also was errorless in the field, but with Taylor on the mound only had to make four putouts behind her. Arnold’s lone threat came when Summer Simmons coaxed one of two walks by Taylor with two outs in the second inning and Shelby Ramsey’s opposite-field single put runners on the corners with two outs.
Jo Jo Booker’s infield single in the fourth was Arnold other hit.
- Arnold 000 00 — 0 2 3
- Rutherford 038 0x — 11 11 0
- Sankey (L), Simmons (3), Sankey (4) and Robertson; Taylor and Pledger.
- LOB: Arnold 4, Rutherford 8. E: Arnold 3 (Lanter, Booker, Ramsey). 2B: Rutherford (Pledger, Williamsen). CS: Keasey (by Robertson).