MONROE — For two scoreless innings, Wednesday’s Snohomish-Monroe softball game was shaping up to be a dandy pitchers’ duel.
It all changed in the third inning.
The Panthers turned five hits, two walks, a hit batter and three Monroe errors into a seven-run inning, and it was all the offense they needed — and then some. Snohomish tacked on a single run in the fourth and three more in the sixth for an 11-0 Wesco 4A North victory over the Bearcats on a drippy day at Sky River Park.
The six-inning (10-run rule) win keeps the Panthers unbeaten through five games in the young season.
Before the first pitch, Snohomish coach Lou Kennedy said, “I figured we’d be looking at maybe a 5-3 game, and it could go either way. But today was outstanding for us, so I’m pretty happy.”
Every player in the Panthers’ starting lineup scored at least once and got on base at least twice. The top three players in the batting order — center fielder Trysten Melhart, shortstop Jennie Winston and third baseman Katlyn Purvis — all reached base four times with a combined six hits, five walks and a hit by pitch.
Melhart had the game’s biggest hit, a bases-clearing triple to cap the team’s seven-run third.
According to Winston, prolific offense is nothing new for the Panthers. Snohomish has scored in double digits in all of their five games this season, so “we can definitely put up some runs,” she said.
For the Bearcats, meanwhile, it was an obviously sobering outcome. “It hurts to get spanked like that,” said Monroe coach Curt Eskeback.
Snohomish starting pitcher Bailey Seek, a junior who has already committed to Weber State University, checked the Bearcats on four hits while striking out five and walking just one. She faced just three hitters over the minimum.
Seek was never in serious trouble, though twice her defense helped end potential Monroe rallies. The Panthers turned two double plays and Purvis, another junior, was responsible for both.
In the second inning, Purvis made a running shoestring catch of a Monroe bunt attempt and followed with a strong throw to first base to double off the runner. Two innings later, with one out and Monroe runners at second and third, she snagged a sharp line drive and won a footrace to third base for an unassisted double play.
“Katlyn’s a Hoover (vacuum cleaner),” Kennedy said with a smile. “She’s been All-Wesco two years in a row and she’s got the fastest hands you’ll ever find. I can’t hit the ball by her in practice. She’s amazing.”
For the Panthers, Wednesday’s decision was a bit of payback for last season, when Monroe handed them a painful loss at the district tournament. Snohomish would later lose another game and come up short of the 2012 state tournament, which is something the team’s veteran players have yet to forget.
Heading into Wednesday’s game, “we definitely wanted to get a little bit of revenge,” Winston said. “We wanted to win this game by a lot.”
Having watched his team open the season with five straight wins — and pummel all five opponents — Kennedy is optimistic about the Panthers’ prospects.
“Without a doubt, this is the best team I’ve had in nine years (as head coach),” he said. “We have depth in pitching with three kids that can throw. We have multiple kids that can play extra positions ? so our (overall) depth is amazing. We have kids who are subs for us that would start on most teams.
“So for us, the sky’s the limit,” he said. “We think big and now we’ll see.”
And for the Bearcats, there will surely be better days.
“I’ve said it before, you have to compete,” Eskeback said. “If the other team gets ahead, you have to battle back and (overcome) adversity. So there’s not much you can say except that we just have to come out and practice harder (today).”
At Sky River Park
Snohomish 007 103 —11 12 1
Monroe 000 000 —0 4 5
Seek and Greenlee; Egan and Delmare. WP—Seek. LP—Egan. 2B—Seek (S), Goodwin (S), Pisac (S), Johnson (M). 3B—Melhart (S), Pisac (S). Records—Snohomish is 1-0 in league, 5-0 overall; Monroe is 0-1, 2-5.