Defense first

Oak Ridge lets game slip away
By: Matt Long
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Oak Ridge softball coach Marc Bentovoja had hoped to use Friday’s game against Sheldon as a building block to what the team had accomplished in past games. Unfortunately for the Lady Trojans, the team took a step back on Friday, as defensive miscues and a lack of hitting led to a 4-2 loss to the Huskies. The Lady Trojans began this week with a 1-1 record in the Delta River League and a 5-2-1 mark overall. “We’re not going to score 1,000 runs this year, so we need to play smart and we didn’t do that today,” Bentovoja said. “We have a couple kids that have a lot of experience, but the rest don’t have that experience at this caliber or in stressful situations like you saw in this game. We have to build on this today and we will be better. I felt like one got away today, though.” The Delta River League is stacked with top teams and Oak Ridge not only had a chance for a 2-0 start, but also had an opportunity to drop Sheldon to 0-2 following its loss to St. Francis earlier in the week. Oak Ridge scored single runs in the second and fourth innings to take a 2-0 lead. Jenessa Jeppesen led off the second with a walk and moved to second on Jade Matsumoto’s sacrifice bunt. Haley Anderson’s groundout to first base moved Jeppesen to third before Jeppesen scored on a fielding error by Sheldon’s second basemen on a ball hit by Ana Campos. The fourth inning started the same for Oak Ridge, as Megan Watson started the rally with a walk. With one out, Matsumoto’s well-place hit found a hole at deep shortstop and Anderson then walked to load the bases. After Campos struck out, Oak Ridge freshman Renee Bardini had the team’s best hit and only RBI of the game. She ripped a two-strike pitch solidly to center field to score Watson, but Matsumoto was thrown out at the plate to end the inning. Oak Ridge pitcher Kasey Stanchek pitched well, scattering five hits, while striking out nine, but the defense behind committed three errors behind her that hurt. In the bottom of the fourth, Stanchek got the first out, but allowed a single to Danielle Henderson and pitcher Alexis Cooper followed with a triple to right field that Oak Ridge’s Stephanie Brenneman made a diving attempt for but missed. Anderson then booted a ground ball, which allowed Cooper to score and tie the game. Stanchek struck out the next two batters to limit the damage to just two runs. In the sixth, Stanchek again got the first out, but Henderson followed with her second hit of the game. Cooper then hit a ground ball to Anderson at short but Anderson couldn’t connect with Lauren Bertoy at second base on the throw and the ball went to right field. Brenneman’s throw to Matsumoto at third got by her and Henderson scored to put Sheldon in front, 3-2. After another Sheldon hit, Meshalon Moore hit a ball to right that Brenneman had momentarily in her glove after a long run, but it dropped out on her next step and Cooper came in to score to make it 4-2. Oak Ridge only managed three hits in the game, two by No. 9 hitter Bardini, and another by Matsumoto. The loss came three days after a 3-0 win over Ponderosa. Matsumoto had a pair of hits and an RBI, while Jeppesen and Bardini also drove in runs. Bertoy, Brenneman and Matsumoto scored runs, while Stanchek earned the shutout along with eight strikeouts. Oak Ridge also played a solid game in the field with no errors. “We need to work on a lot of things and we have a game plan on how to go about it,” Bentovoja said. “We will be alright.” Oak Ridge’s only league game this week was Monday at Pleasant Grove. The team plays in the Stampede Tournament in Livermore Thursday through Saturday.