UTICA — Pitcher Josie Layman went the distance, scattering four hits to lead the Utica Redskins (2-3) to a 2-1 victory over the visiting Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets (1-1) in area non-league softball action.
“I just went out there and did the best I could,” said Layman. “I kept that strong mentality that I usually do and just did what I could.”
It was a scoreless tie through the first four innings with both teams playing solid defense.
“I was real happy with our defensive play tonight,” said Utica coach Kayla Shomaker. “I think we were errorless, except when we had a little bobble at second base (in the sixth inning), and that set the tone. It’s good to get another win, especially against a Division I team.”
The Redskins’ defense made Layman’s job easier throughout the game.
“I felt pretty confident. They’re behind me when I’m pitching,” said Layman. “I’ve just got to go out there and pitch it. The (other team) hits the ball and they make plays.”
Both teams loaded the bases without scoring. The Jackets stranded nine runners and the Redskins stranded eight.
The Redskins finally broke through in the fifth with third baseman Erin Rodgers and catcher Bri Nelson on base. Utica’s Kalyn Scott grounded to the shortstop who missed the throw. Nelson and Rodgers scampered home on the play to give the Redskins a 2-0 lead.
“We need to get our runners in when we get them on base,” said Shomaker. “It’s something we’ve been struggling with. Finally we were able to capitalize on an error that they had to score a couple. If that’s what we have to do, then that’s what we have to do. We’ll take them as we can get them.”
It turned out that Layman would need both of those Utica runs as she gave up a solo homer to Mount Vernon first baseman Maggie Hale in the top of the sixth to cut the lead in half.
“Sometimes, it just takes us a while to get our bats going,” said Layman. “We started hitting and it worked.”
Hale’s blast would turn out to be the only earned run of the game for either team.
“(Utica) is a very solid team,” said Mount Vernon coach Mike Marcum. “We had a couple of little mishaps and they made us pay for it. I thought both teams played pretty well. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.”
For the Redskins, it is an important victory as 12 of their next 13 games will be against Mid-Buckeye Conference opponents. Shomaker has a lot to be upbeat about.
“I think our pitching is doing really well,” said Shomaker. “We have been hitting the ball real well. We’ve got to get more timely hits. Our defense has really come around and settled in. Our outfield has impressed me this year, too. We are stronger than we have been in the past. Overall, we are doing the things well but we have to do them all well — all the time — to keep us in ballgames.”
Despite the loss, Marcum has plenty positives as well.
“We have a very solid defense,” said Marcum. “We’ve got two good pitchers. We hit the ball pretty well, for the most part, all through the order. I’m not worried about how the season’s going to go. I think they’ll come through and persevere.”