If the first showdown of the Region VII-AAA softball season was any indication, pitchers could be in for a long year.
North Myrtle Beach defeated St. James 7-6 on Tuesday in a game that featured 24 hits and all but two of the starters between the teams reaching base safely at least once. And according to the coaches, this wasn’t simply a question of hitters being ahead of the defenses.
“I expect the teams to score. I don’t think anybody has a dominating pitcher,” Chiefs coach James Graves said. “If they put the bat on the ball, you better make plays. Sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t. If you make three or four mistakes at the wrong time, you might give up six or eight [runs].”
It was apparent early that St. James and North Myrtle Beach would both be putting the ball in play often. They combined for eight hits in the first two innings alone, when the Sharks built an early 4-1 lead.
It wouldn’t last.
The Chiefs scored three runs in each of the third and fourth innings, sending seven batters to the plate each frame. North Myrtle Beach didn’t score another run – although it did add four more hits – but the Chiefs also didn’t need to. They had done plenty of damage already.
Makala Gore was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and three runs. Regan Urbaniak was also 3-for-4, adding an RBI and a run of her own.
The firepower was evident nearly throughout the lineup.
“We work really hard in practice swinging the bat, working on positioning, pitcher selection, where we need to place the ball,” Gore said. “If it’s on the outside corner, drive it into right field. If it’s on the inside, step out and drive it. We know where we should place it every inning.”
St. James (4-4 overall, 0-1 Region VII-AAA), though, wasn’t exactly out there wasting at-bats. The Sharks piled up nine hits and also played a role in two of North Myrtle Beach’s three errors.
There were only four strikeouts throughout the game. And while the St. James and North Myrtle Beach are each considered region contenders, they still may not have the best offense in the division, according to St. James coach Adam Jones. He said that distinction probably belongs to Georgetown.
“We hit the ball well. We just need to play better on defense,” Jones said. “Playing against teams like North Myrtle Beach and Georgetown, you’ll lose against them every time since they hit the ball so well.
“I think it’s a hitter’s region this year. Whoever continually pounds the ball, I think you’ll see a lot of scores like this. … Whoever goes on a streak and runs with it, I think that’s who’s gonna win the region.”
▪ W - Serrah Ballard. L - Shelby Spaziani. Top hitters - NMB: Makala Gore 3-4, 2 2B, 3 Runs; Emmalee Ballard 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI, Run; Myatt Hardwick 2-4, RBI; St. James: Kelsi Bachmann 2-3, BB, 2 Runs, SB; Dominique Gross 1-4, RBI, Run; Kenley Daves 2-3, 2B, Run.
▪ Records: North Myrtle Beach 3-2, 1-0 Region VII-AAA; St. James 4-4, 0-1..