MARION — The softball gods frowned when Canadian Wild pitcher Sara Groenenwegen walked USSSA Pride’s Nicole Dewitt to start the fourth inning.
Groenenwegen’s teammates had given her a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third. Dewitt drew a walk on five pitches. The situation magnified itself when Groenenwegen also walked Megan Wiggins.
Jessica Warren made the Wild pitcher pay for that faux pas with a no-doubt shot over the left field fence. That was all the Pride needed as they nabbed a 3-1 win over the Wild, ending the Wild’s opening homestand at 3-2. The Wild is 9-2 overall.
“We made a few mistakes in that inning,” said Wild coach Mark Smith. “It was a big home run by Warren. The bottom line is we had two other innings where we had runners on second base with less and two outs and couldn’t generate a run.
“It’s not as if we didn’t have a chance to be in that game or even ahead by a few more runs. Full credit to them, we had that one inning we didn’t defend like we needed to and they took full advantage of it.”
The Wild drew first blood in the third when leadoff hitter Joey Lye, who came into the game with a .545 batting average, ripped a base hit off the glove of first baseman Amanda Lorenz. The ball appeared to be destined for the right field corner, but Lorenz play held Lye to a single.
After moving to second on Janet Leung’s sacrifice, Lye scored easily when Jenny Gilbert lashed an opposite field single to left.
However, that was all the offense the Wild could muster.
The Wild hit in tough luck in the second inning.
Holly Speers lashed a line drive to third baseman Bianka Bell to start the inning. Shianne Brannan followed with a single to right before Larissa Franklin was robbed of a single by Allexis Bennett in centerfield.
Pride starter Jessica Burroughs got out of the inning by snagging Emma Entzinger’s line drive.
“That’s really what we do,” Smith said. “We’re going to make you work to get our outs. Some nights that works for you. Sunday night their left fielder tried to make a play that she couldn’t get to and we ended up scoring a run and a couple more after that. It’s a game of inches.
“They’re a good team and I certainly didn’t expect them to come in here and think we were going to have our way with them. Tonight we had some opportunities and it continues to reinforce to us the things we have to do to get better.”
Taran Alvelo, who pitched for the University of Washington, picked up the win for the Pride. She entered the game in the fifth and retired all nine hitters she faced.
“She’s coming off a college season where she threw 200-plus innings and she looked pretty fresh and pretty sharp,” Smith said. “We’re coming off a winter where we’re still getting going.”
Both teams had four hits. No Wild player had more than one hits. For the Pride, 39-year-old Kelly Kretschman had two hits.