Bulldogs swing in the rain to beat Elma

As long as their long game remains productive, Montesano’s girls may receive precious few opportunities to demonstrate their traditional short game.

Annie Cristelli slugged a first-inning grand slam and winning pitcher Samantha Stanfield added a solo shot as the Bulldogs trounced Elma, 10-0, in an Evergreen 1A League softball game April 14 at the soggy Ventron Complex. The game was shortened to five innings by the 10-run mercy rule.

Even without the usual quota of bunters and slappers at the top of their lineup, the Bulldogs (4-0, 8-1) haven’t experienced difficulty scoring runs this season. This despite being limited to two outdoor practices during this wet spring.

“The great thing is that they’ve played together for so long, they know what we expect and they roll with it,” Montesano coach Pat Pace said of his troops.

Montesano’s eight hits Friday were far from a season high. Half of those, however, went for extra bases.

“As long as we continue to do that, along with Sam’s pitching in the circle, we’re going to win a lot of games,” Pace added.

The biggest blow of all came during a five-run first inning.

Lindsay Pace doubled off the center-field fence with one out and scored when Allyssa Gustafson’s two-out grounder was misplayed. Josie Toyra’s infield single and a walk to Cheyann Bartlett issued by Elma starting pitcher Destry Dineen loaded the bases.

Cristelli promptly cleared them with a drive over the fence in left-center.

Elma coach Roger Elliott lamented the error that rendered all five runs unearned.

“When you play a good team, that’s going to hurt you,” Elliott said. “And they’re a good team.”

Stanfield’s leadoff homer to left triggered a three-run Montesano second inning. The Bulldogs added solo runs in the third and fourth, with Cristelli’s sacrifice fly in the fourth giving her five RBIs for the day.

That was more than enough support for the hard-throwing Stanfield, who spun a two-hitter.

She escaped a two-out, two-on predicament in the first inning following a leadoff walk to Dineen and Molly Johnston’s single. Stanfield handled Kohlby Jo Sayler’s bouncer back to the circle to end the inning.

The junior right-hander allowed only one more baserunner (Sayler beat out an infield hit in the fourth) the rest of the way, while striking out seven.

It was something of a minor miracle that the game was even played.

Elliott and maintenance workers were on hand several hours prior to the first pitch to get the wet field in shape. Rain fell periodically during the contest and the batter’s box and foul territory were a veritable sea of mud, but the infield held up and the game was completed without interruption.