Dayton boys, girls sweep Sparks in Northern 3A opener
SPARKS – The Dayton softball team never seemed to click Wednesday and its star pitcher Mackenzie Cole struggled with command early.
Neither mattered, though, as the Dust Devils took advantage of free passes, while Cole eventually found her rhythm en route to a 6-0 victory against Sparks in the Northern 3A opener.
“The girls played very loose and their attitudes were just incredible,” first-year Dayton head coach Daven Passalacqua said. “It was a great first (league) win and I think it puts a lot of confidence in them.”
The Dust Devils managed just six hits, but were aided by seven walks, an error and some questionable Sparks fielding.
Dayton scored one run in the second thanks to a leadoff walk to Taylor Hays, who advanced on a wild pitch and used some heads-up baserunning when she scored while Kylie Shepherd was caught in a rundown.
Dayton added two more runs in the third when Mariah Collins walked and scored after Lindsie Cross’ bunt single was misplayed by Sparks. The first baseman committed a throwing error as she tried to get Collins out at third. The ball went wide, scoring Collins. Cross moved to third and scored one batter later on a wild pitch to make it 3-0.
“We executed everything exactly the way it’s planned,” Passalacqua said. “(Hits) don’t come in bunches and I don’t think they’re going to come in bunches the rest of the season. I honestly think there going to be one and two-run (games).
“We did get some free extra bases and we took advantage of them. “
Cole walked the first batter she faced, but rebounded to strike out the next two batters and catcher Tasha Wells threw out the lead runner as she tried to steal second in a strike’em-out, throw’em-out double play.
Cole struck out two more batters in both the second and third innings and three in the fourth. She finished with 12, despite admittedly being less than 100 percent because of an illness.
“We got here a little bit late and didn’t have a whole lot of time to warm up,” Cole said. “I wasn’t feeling 100 percent, so it just kind of took me a few batters to get my groove.”
Dayton, 3-2 overall, will play Sparks in a doubleheader on Saturday in Dayton.
“It’s so great to start off with a win because that sets the standards for the season,” Cole said.
DAYTON 11, SPARKS 2
SPARKS – The Dust Devils put up four runs early Wednesday and skated to an easy league-opening baseball victory over Sparks.
Dayton’s baseball team is off to a blazing-hot 5-0 start in part because of an offense that hasn’t been shy putting runs on the board.
“One characteristic that has really surprised us is our base running,” Dayton coach Jay Merrell said. “Guys are really aggressive. They’re taking advantage of everything that they give us.”
Six of Dayton’s first seven batters reached base safely with Timmy Doyle leading off with a walk. He stole second and third before scoring the first run of the game on a passed ball. Conner Oliver hit a triple and Houston Bernston followed with walk. Jake Koch, Logan Garling and TJ Harnar all followed with singles.
Oliver finished 2-for-3 on the day with a sacrifice bunt, a triple and two runs. He also struck out 10 batters and took the mound win.