LAGRANGE — Keystone displayed all the traits of a championship-caliber softball team Friday in its 4-0 non-conference win over Massillon Jackson.
The Wildcats showed off some timely hitting, scoring three runs on two-out hits.
Freshman Lauren Shaw gave Keystone outstanding pitching, scattering six singles while improving her record to 4-0.
Shortstop Summer Constable and second baseman Morgan McNulty each made diving catches early in the game to crush Polar Bears rallies. Constable said the Wildcats (6-0) are having fun in the early part of the season.
“We’re playing with a lot of energy and playing the way we’re supposed to be playing,” Constable said. “We’re not thinking out there. We’re just having fun. We’re a team of players that all really want to be perfect, but if we can just continue to relax and have fun we’re going to be successful.”
The Wildcats scored their first run in the first inning when Madi Cendrosky hit a two-out double to left field that scored Sammi Stefan. Constable and McNulty followed with two-out RBI hits in the second and third innings.
Shaw got better as the game rolled on, retiring nine of the last 10 Polar Bears batters after allowing the leadoff runner to reach base in three of the first five innings.
“I’m proud of the way our entire team played today,” Shaw said. “My change-up was really working. I knew I had to come out and do my best and work ahead of hitters, but my teammates took the pressure off of me the way they fielded the ball and hit the ball.”
Massillon Jackson, which plays in the Federal League alongside two-time defending state champion North Canton Hoover, entered the game with a 4-0 record, but was never able to pose much of a threat to Keystone. Sophomore Victoria Addis went 3-for-3 to lead the Polar Bears’ offense.
“I’m proud of the effort and energy we showed against a great ball team today,” Keystone coach Jim Piazza said. “The kids are starting to feel comfortable with each other now. When I heard Jackson had an opening in their schedule, I wanted to get them up here and play them to see where we stand right now against a quality team. We’ve still got a lot of improving to do, but I am happy with what I saw today.”
McNulty’s final stats were impressive enough — 2-for-3 with a double, RBI and stolen base — but it was her work in the field that really stood out. In the third inning, she fielded a hard grounder off the bat of Massillon Jackson cleanup hitter Erin Duncan, then moved quickly to her right to tag out Annie Dehnke advancing to second before making the throw to first to complete the double play.
“I’m pretty confident on going for the double play in that situation because we work on that all the time in practice,” McNulty said. “Our defense has been strong all year. I think that’s because we play with a lot of energy and believe in ourselves. When you get in a game against a team like Jackson, you realize how important defense can be.”
Catcher Liz Hayes also had two hit for the Wildcats, who have shut out five of their first six opponents.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.