A chilly and breezy mid-March day might as well have been a sunny day in May for Kristina Bettis.
The Belleville East junior had midseason command, striking out six Triad batters while allowing just two hits in an 8-1 opening day win for the softball Lancers Thursday.
“My hand was kind of cold, but other than that, the chill didn’t bother me,” Bettis said. “I didn’t really know anything about Triad. Coach just said they had good hitters, but I didn’t know which ones, so I just tried to keep it off the plate.”
Triad, which won 21 games a year ago, returns four solid seniors to the middle of its lineup, but started three sophomores and a freshman around them Thursday.
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The Lancers pressured the the young Knights on the basepaths, converting four Triad errors into three unearned runs.
Senior starter Kari Sarhage gave up seven East hits while striking out four and walking just one.
“The good thing about Belleville East is that we start out with a top-quality opponent. The bad thing about starting off with Belleville East is that they will expose your weaknesses right away,” said Triad coach Kris Kleeman. “I talked to the girls coming out here that this is the game to see where our deficits lay, and I think it became obvious pretty quickly what we need to work on.”
The Lancers, 24-game winners last year, are back at home for a doubleheader against Marion at 3:30 p.m. Friday. Triad is at Althoff at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Junior designated player Jasmine Poore set the tone for East with two outs in the second inning. She laced a Sarhage pitch into left-center field to score catcher Alex Boze, who had singled, then stretched her hit into a double. On the next batter, she scored all the way from second on a wild pitch.
Poore finished the game with two hits, a walk and three runs scored.
“Jasmine set the tone in the first inning by stretching a single into a double, then just going on her own when the ball got away from the catcher,” said East coach Natalie Peters. “I think that set the tone for our whole game.”
The Lancers took a 5-0 lead with three in the fourth. Kenall Patton doubled home Poore, who led off the innning with a hit, then scored herself on an error by the Triad third baseman. Jackie Belzer, the shortstop, reached on an error and later scored on a sacrifice fly by senior Savannah Watts.
Kailey Daniel scored Triad’s lone run, unearned, in the fifth inning.
Bettis helped herself in the fifth by singling home Ally Blomberg and Poore and scoring later on a wild pitch.
Poore went 2-for-2 and scored three runs. Patton also had two hits, a run scored and an RBI. Blomberg, Boze, Bettis and Watts had the other Lancers hits.
Sarhage and catcher Payton Bode had Triad’s only hits.