GENESEO — The Geneseo softball team faced its toughest test of the softball season so far in conference action against a seasoned Sterling squad on Tuesday night at J.F. Edwards Complex.
And that experience came in handy for the Golden Warriors (5-0, 3-0 WB6) who prevailed with a 6-2 win over the Maple Leafs (7-1, 2-1) in a matchup of unbeaten teams.
Geneseo got the scoring started in the bottom of the fifth inning with a solo home run from junior Maya Bienman to put the Maple Leafs up 1-0.
Sterling answered in the bottom half as Riley Dittmar reached base on an error. Lauren Jacobs came up and put down a sacrifice bunt to move Dittmar over to second. Dittmar rounded to third on the play, and the throw went over the head of third baseman Lauryn Wildermuth. Dittmar scored on the play.
In the same inning, Jordan Bryant hit an RBI double to score Amayia Hernandez from second and pitcher Elizabeth Plumbo added to the rally with a two-run home-run to make it 4-1.
That sequence of events ultimately cost Geneseo the game, but coach Pat Mitchell was calm afterward and understood that the loss is a learning experience for his team, which has only four returning seniors and 13 freshmen and sophomores who are getting their first taste of varsity experience.
"We never want to be the team that says we played well except for 'that one inning,' but that's exactly what happened tonight," Mitchell said. "We haven't had a close game yet this season, and when it gets down to the sixth and seventh innings, our girls hadn't felt the pressure. We didn't get it done tonight but we can learn from it and hopefully this loss catches their attention."
Geneseo tried to fight back, picking up a run in the sixth inning as Natalie Baumgardner hit a sacrifice fly to score Payton Stohl, but Sterling answered in the top of the seventh with a two-run home-run from Hernandez to put the game away.
Mitchell gave all the credit to their opponents in the very competitive game that saw only three total hits until the Bienman home-run in the fifth inning.
"They are a team that has been good and has a good pedigree," Mitchell said. "We hope to get to that point with our new players and are considering this a rebuild instead of a reload. You never really know what to think though until the girls take the field."
Learning from this game is crucial for the Maple Leafs as they look ahead toward the end of the season when they will likely be playing in more close contests such as this one.
"This should be good for us in the long run that we can learn from our mistakes in this game," Mitchell said. "A loss can turn you silly sometimes so hopefully we bounce back in the next game, and it's only a true loss if you don't learn from it."