By RICHARD J. MARCUS
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Tuesday afternoon’s preseason softball game between St. Vincent and host Santa Rosa demonstrated how defensive errors can take over a game.
Santa Rosa (4-0) won 5-1 to remain undefeated behind a solid defense that did not commit an error behind Panther starting pitcher Johanna Peelen (W, 3-0). Meanwhile, St. Vincent (0-4) remains winless after committing six errors that sank the Mustangs and starting pitcher Hannah Sarlatte (L, 0-2).
“Errors, that pretty much was the whole game,” St. Vincent coach Don Jensen said. “We should be very good defensively but we make errors at inappropriate times. The girls are really working hard at improving it (defense).”
All of St. Vincent’s errors were committed in the infield and led to three unearned runs by Santa Rosa.
“If we don’t make mistakes we are in the game,” Jensen said.
Santa Rosa had 11 hits to three for St. Vincent and the Panthers could have easily scored 10 runs but had rallies extinguished by hitting into double-plays to end the bottom of the third, fourth and sixth innings.
“We had some base-running errors. We left a lot of runners on base,” Santa Rosa coach Jeff Pratt. “There were things that we weren’t crisp on. We have got little things that we have to keep improving.”
Santa Rosa scored all the runs it would need — two — in the second inning after the Panthers Karina Banks reached first on an error, followed by back-to-back doubles by Peelen (2-3, 1 RBI) and Alison Wendler to take a 1-0 lead. Makenzie Kearns (2-3, 1 RBI) drove in the second run with a ground out.
Santa Rosa tacked on solo runs in the third, fifth and sixth innings — more than enough cushion for Peelen, who was in a groove during her six innings worked.
“I’m trying to hit my locations and focus mentally this year,” Peelen said. “I definitely have had better outings this preseason (than Tuesday’s outing).”
Panther fireballer Denia Vera came in to pitch a scoreless seventh inning. “I thought Vera was going to be Santa Rosa’s starting pitcher. Peelen starting caught me a little off guard,” Jensen said. “Peelen is a pretty darn good pitcher.”
Despite giving up 11 hits and having to overcome a porous defense behind her, Sarlatte had a solid outing, giving up only two earned runs in six innings.
“Hannah threw a great game. She was throwing a fast drop-ball that was biting,” Jensen said. “She has a great attitude. She never takes it out on teammates when they make errors.”
The only Mustang that had a good day at the plate was Ursyla Baumgarten, who went 2-3 with an RBI.
Santa Rosa had four batters with two hits apiece as the Panthers’ offense continues to prosper. “Santa Rosa is a pretty good team this year,” Jensen said. “It’s tough to win when you have three hits and six errors.”