AYER – Errors have been problematic for the Ayer Shirley (2-4,1-3 Mid-Wach E) softball team in its first six games. The Panthers have committed 23 errors in total – three of which came in Monday afternoon’s 3-2 Mid-Wach E loss to Tahanto (4-3, 3-0 Mid-Wach E). Two of the three runs scored by the Stags came off errors.
The Panthers registered just two hits through the first six innings. Ayer Shirley rattled off three hits in the seventh inning, where it scored its only runs on an RBI triple by Sarah Ernst and a double to left by Shannon Mountford.
We hit too late,” said Ayer Shirley head coach Terri Rollins. “We kind of died off. All of a sudden, we get a good hit up the middle and the girls were just flat. We make a couple of mistakes and the girls just seemed flat. When we commit errors, it just kills us.”
Tahanto pitcher Erin Ames struck out three and allowed just four hits over seven innings of work.
In the first inning, Ayer Shirley pitcher Sydney Greeno allowed one run on two hits. Ames helped her own cause with a one-out RBI single down the left field line that scored leadoff hitter Makenzy Herron, who reached on a single through the third base side.
Ames retired Ayer Shirley in order in the first and second inning, as the Panthers struggled to put the ball out of the infield.
The Stags tacked on an insurance run in the third inning, when Chrisoula Moraitis ( 2 for 3, RBI) ripped a laser to the right-centerfield gap that scored Herron from third on a close play at the dish.
The throw appeared to have beaten Herron, but the home plate umpire ruled that the Tahanto third baseman slipped under the tag of Ayer Shirley catcher Natalie Carroll to put the Stags up, 2-0.
Greeno settled in and got the next two batters on consecutive putouts by shortstop Molly Cadogan.
Ayer Shirley’s first baserunner didn’t come until the bottom of the third inning, when Michele Woodland reached safely on an error with two outs and was left stranded.
Tahanto’s Sophia Morena reached safely with a double on a line drive to right field and advanced to third on a wild pitch. The Stags left runners at the corners to end the fourth, as Jenn McGrath took charge in centerfield and tracked down a well-struck ball by Herron. Greeno caught Ames looking on a 2-2 pitch that nibbled the outside corner for the final out of the inning.
“Jenn McGrath was on fire in center field.” added Rollins.
Carroll broke up Ames’ no-hit bid in the fourth inning with a one-out ground-rule double that one hopped into the brush Carroll got caught up in a 5-6 rundown, when Greeno reached on a fielder’s choice.
The Stags tacked on a run in the sixth inning, when Morena scored on an error.to put Tahanto up, 3-0.
“They constantly play hard,” said Rollins. “When they make a mistake, they get all frustrated with themselves and you have to pep them back up. The bottom of our lineup has been struggling, but they helped us comeback today. Sara Ernst came off the bench cold and made a big out on a very deep ball (in the seventh inning).
Nine-hole hitter, Kelsey McAlister singled to left field in the sixth inning for the Panthers.
Ayer Shirley returns to action on Wednesday, when it travels to Winchendon to take on Murdock.
Follow Ed Niser on Twitter:@EdNiser