Mars pitcher produced solid effort in defeat to rival Knoch Monday afternoon.
ADAMS TWP — The Knoch softball team landed an uppercut early in its Section 5-AAA clash with Mars Monday afternoon and the Planets never recovered. The Knights plated four first-inning runs en route to an 8-2 road victory, Mars’ first section loss of the season. “I consider Mars to be the favorite to win the section, but I’m also not surprised we performed the way we did today,” said Knoch coach Tim Knappenberger. “This is what we are capable of.” The Knights (6-5, 2-3) had dropped three of their first four section games. The program had lost five straight games to the rival Planets. “We talked about playing a good game today,” said Knoch shortstop Bethany Hay. “It had been a while since we beat Mars and this win is big for us.” Mars’ defense did not do starting pitcher Taylor Rotz any favors, committing six errors behind the senior. One of those miscues came with two outs in the top of the first inning and allowed Abbie Thrower to score the Knights’ fourth and final run of the frame. Earlier in the inning, Bethany Hay came home on a groundout off the bat of Abbi Smithmyer and Thrower followed with a two-run single. “We got moving in that first inning,” said Knappenberger. “Getting an early lead is key in this game.” Knoch pitcher Codi Reed shut the Planets down through the first five innings, allowing two hits and a walk in that span. Mars’ mistakes were not limited to the field. In the bottom of the third and fifth inning, a Planet baserunner was doubled off second and first, respectively, after fly balls to the outfield. “We did not come mentally prepared to play today,” said Planets’ coach Michele Goodworth. “It proved to be contagious.” And it spread to the top of the fifth when Mars committed three more errors in the field, leading to a sacrifice fly from Reed that scored Smithmyer for a 5-0 edge. “We have had some errors to start the season,” said Goodworth. “We have experienced players, but it’s like we are not comfortable at some positions.” Mars (4-5, 4-1) got on the board in the bottom of the sixth when Suzanne Papik singled and Erin Hershman crushed a ball over the centerfield fence, but it would be the lone punch of the day from the Planet bats. Reed struck out three and walked one in the win while Rotz fanned five and walked one. Four of the eight runs she allowed were unearned. Hay, Knoch’s leadoff hitter, paced her team’s offense with two singles, a triple, two runs scored and one batted in. “She’s a spark plug,” Knappenberger said of Hay. “She’s got some wheels and that’s why she is in that spot in the order.” Thrower also had a strong day with the bat, singling twice while scoring two runs and driving in two. The two teams are scheduled for a rematch, April 30 at Laura Doerr Park.