Pitching, defense leads Aberdeen to season-opening win

Aberdeen opened its season in good form, earning a 6-1 win over the Elma Eagles in girls softball on Saturday, March 19, in Elma.

Propelled by a solid pitching performance from Lilly Camp and a stellar defense, Aberdeen (1-0 overall) used a three-run second inning and scratched across a run apiece in the third, fifth and sixth innings en route to the win.

The run support was more than enough for Camp, who allowed an unearned run in the first inning and struck out eight in the complete-game performance.

Aberdeen’s defense was in mid-season form on Saturday, playing error-free while often robbing Elma batters of base hits.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Bobcats center fielder Laynie Yakovich ran down a sinking liner off the bat of Brooklyn Swarts and threw to first to double off Aleigha Weld.

In the sixth inning, Aberdeen shortstop Hailey Wilson — who gobbled up any ball hit her way — had arguably the most impressive defensive play of the day when she dove to her right to stop a hard ground ball by Janessa Sample. Wilson quickly threw the ball over to Emma Siano, who made a full stretch at first to get the speedy Sample by a step.

After the game, the Aberdeen coaching staff told its players they will be “tough to beat” if they continue playing defense at that level, and head coach Jimmy McDaniel said the defense has been a focal point during practices.

“That was a defensive game,” he said. “We practice the defensive fundamentals everyday, and it showed today that all that work they are doing paid off. … They can make the plays and they know they can make the plays. … Our goal is to perfect the fundamentals and the routine plays are going to be easy.”

McDaniel said the defense helps relieve some of the pressure off Camp, who understands she has a team that will make the plays behind her.

“Lilly knows she can trust her defense,” he said. “She knows if she gives up a hit, she doesn’t have to get down on herself. She knows the team has her back. … She just let’s the ball fly and knows the team is there to take care of her.”

Elma (0-2) took an early lead when Madisyn Monroe reached in the first inning on a dropped third strike (wild pitch) and later scored.

Aberdeen responded with three runs in the top of the second inning. Camp led off with a double and scored on a triple by third baseman Maddie Gore.

Gore then scored on a Monroe wild pitch and the Bobcats added an insurance run later in the inning when Siano, aboard with a walk, scored on a Merryn Bruner single.

Leading 4-1 after Wilson scored on a sacrifice fly from Camp in the third, Gore drove in Wilson with a single in the fifth.

Wilson drove in Aili Scott with the Bobcats’ sixth run with a single in the top of the sixth.

Aberdeen’s offense benefited from multi-hit games by Gore (2-4, 3B, R, RBI), Camp (2-3, 2B, R, RBI) and Wilson (2-4, 2R, RBI).

Elma was led by Carly Gay, who went 2-for-3 with a double on Saturday.

The Eagles defense also made some eye-catching plays on Saturday, including a picture-perfect double play started and turned by Sample and shortstop Emmie Lou Spencer, respectively.

Eagles head coach Ashley Stancil said there were many positives to take away from the loss, including getting contact against a good pitcher.

“I thought we hit the ball really well off of (Camp). She is probably the best pitcher we’ll see all year long,” Stancil said. “I’m really impressed with how we put the ball in play. There are some things we need to work on, but those are fixable. … It’s a good confidence booster for them, especially against a pitcher like that.”

Monroe took the loss for the Eagles, allowing six earned runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts and three walks in seven innings pitched.

Aberdeen 031 011 0 — 6 7 1

Elma 100 000 0 — 1 5 4

Aberdeen — Gore (2-4, 3B, R, RBI); Camp (2-3, 2B, R, RBI); Wilson (2-4, 2R, RBI); Scott (1-3, R); Bruner (1-3, RBI).

Elma — Gay (2-3, 2B); Galligan (1-2); Weld (1-3); Swarts (1-3).