By Josh Brown
TROY — After back-to-back run-rule losses to perennial powerhouse Greenville to begin division play, Troy softball coach Scott Beeler was adamant in his faith.
“I still believe in this team,” the first-year coach said. “This has not been a fun past two days, but this is not indicative of who we are. And we’re not going to let it define us.”
Beginning with an 11-1 run-rule win at Greenville on Monday, the Green Wave’s freshman pitcher Baylee Petry held Troy’s potent offense in check both days — and though the Trojan offense found more success at home, the Wave hit the ball hard all afternoon, as well, beginning and ending the game with a home run to close out a 12-2 run-rule win Tuesday at Market Street Diamond in Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division play.
Last year, the Trojans and Wave shared the GWOC North Division title along with Piqua. Since entering the North in 2011, though, Greenville has been the team to beat, winning it every year and only sharing it last year and in 2013 during that stretch.
Morgan Gilbert led off the game by yanking a solo homer over the fence in left for Greenville (6-1, 3-0 GWOC American North), a shot that jump-started a four-run top of the first inning. And after entering the top of the fifth with a seven-run lead, Sydney Grote hit a two-out, two-run bomb that capped off a three-run inning and helped put an early end to the game.
“My hat’s off to Greenville. They played two great games against us,” Beeler said. “They deserved to win — but this isn’t who we are. They were hitting the ball and putting it in play, and Petry beat us twice. She mixes up her pitches, keeps things outside, hits her corners — she’s a good pitcher. But we need to be more disciplined at the plate, need to understand the situations and know what pitches are coming.”
Offensively, Troy (2-2, 0-2 GWOC American North) — which routed Wayne 11-1 its last time on the field before the Greenville series — was held to one hit in the game, an RBI single by Megan Malott in the second inning. After Savannah Nelson was hit by a pitch and Hallie Snyder drew a walk, Madison Potts drew a one-out walk to load the bases. Abby Innes hit an RBI fielder’s choice as the Wave couldn’t turn the inning-ending double play, then Malott slapped a solid single the other way to make the score 5-2 at the time.
But it was the only time Petry was out of control. In the bottom of the fourth, Potts drew a one-out walk and Innes reached on an error that put runners on second and third, but a lineout and a groundout put a quick end to that threat, and Petry retired the side in order in the bottom of the fifth to end the game.
“It was the same thing as yesterday with our hitting,” Beeler said. “We did better today. I feel like we took away her outside pitch that she got us on a lot yesterday, but she was able to come back with a changeup and drop ball — and we just weren’t able to sit on it and drive it.”
After Gilbert’s first-inning homer, Cassie Cromwell and Petry each had an RBI single off of Troy’s starter, freshman Erica Keenan, and a wild pitch brought home one more run to make it 4-0 Wave. Keenan gave way to Hallie Snyder in the second inning, but Cromwell hit an RBI groundout to make the score 5-0.
The Trojans cut the lead to 5-2 after two complete, but an RBI single by Courtney Bryson, who later scored on a wild pitch with two outs, made it a 7-2 game. The Wave tacked on two more in the fourth on a run-scoring wild pitch and an errant pickoff attempt at third base, making it 9-2 going into the fifth.
The Wave executed a delayed double steal of home with two outs in the fifth, with Karsyn Shaffer swiping the plate to make it a 10-2 game. Grote followed that with her home run that made the gap 10, and the Wave put the game away from there.
Keenan gave up five hits, two walks and five runs, four earned, while striking out two in one-plus innings. Snyder pitched the final four, walking four and giving up 10 hits and seven runs, six earned.
Petry struck out three, walked four and hit a batter, giving up one hit and two earned runs to get the win.
Troy will now look to bounce back with three more games this week — at Triad Wednesday, at home against Stebbins Thursday and at Fairborn Friday — before taking on Sidney in division play next week.
“It doesn’t get any easier,” Beeler said. “We could finish this week 3-2 if we lift our heads back up and come out and play ball. Or we could finish this week 0-5 if we let our heads go down and not come back. This team has a lot of talent. We’re young, but we have a lot of talent. I told the girls we can still go 25-2 — but it’s up to them how they want to finish.
“I believe in these girls. I don’t think they’re going to give up. They’re going to come back and work hard, and we’re not going to let this define our season.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.