DRYDEN — When the playoffs are on the horizon, qualified teams want to set the tone for a deep run with a solid showing in their regular season finale.
Unfortunately, the Dryden Lions set exactly the wrong tone with a mercy rule-shortened 19-4 loss in six innings to the Spencer-Van Etten Panthers Friday at Dryden High.
Rhianna Lawrence pitched a complete game five-hitter for the Panthers with 12 strikeouts. She also reached base in all five of her plate appearances with a double, two singles, two steals, four runs and an RBI.
“She’s a good pitcher,” Lions coach David Allen said. “We’ve faced pitchers equal to her or a little better and we’ve come out of there with 15 runs.”
Reagan Sudnikovich also had a big day for the Panthers, as she went 3-for-3 with three doubles, four runs, five RBI and three steals, including a steal of home in the first inning.
Christina Beebe (2-for-5, double, four RBI), Hannah Martinez (4-for-5, two runs, RBI), Taya Sousa (2-for-4) and Katelin Klym (3-for-4, double) also had multi-hit games for the Panthers.
After mustering just one hit through the first four innings, the Lions did all their scoring in the fifth to stave off a mercy rule ending after an eight-run top of the fifth by S-VE put them down 13-0. With two outs and MacKenzie Rochford on first, Natalie Day hit a single and Lindsay Allen hit a double to chase both Rochford and Day home. Chlore Russell got plunked with a 1-2 pitch, then Morgan Best laced a double to score her and Allen.
But the Panthers were able to get the margin up to 15 in the top of the sixth with six runs on three hits and three errors, and Lawrence retired the side on just seven pitches in the bottom half to end the game. She threw 12 or fewer pitches in each inning except the fourrun fifth, when she threw 28 pitches to eight batters.
“You can’t start swinging the bats in the fifth inning,” Allen said. “You can’t swing the bats in one inning and expect to win.”
The Lions finished the regular season at 10-5. Unlikely to get a home game in the first round of the tournament, Allen hopes to get a more consistent effort against whoever their first opponent may be.
“You’re going to face teams that can hit, there’s no doubt about it,” he said. “That’s what we train for. The decent teams are going to hit you. I don’t care if you have Jennie Finch on the mound, you’ve still got to score to win a game.”