HAMPDEN — Any high school softball coach would be thrilled to have one ace-caliber pitcher in his of her arsenal, but depth is a key commodity.
Brewer is certainly blessed with versatility in the circle, and it showed on a blustery and sometimes rainy opening day Thursday.
Emily Cox and Morgan Haradon collaborated on a four-hitter, keeping Hampden Academy off-balance as the Witches earned a 3-0 victory over the Broncos in a mutual season opener at the Weatherbee Complex.
Cox went the first 5 2/3 innings, but after Hampden loaded the bases with two outs, Haradon came on and got the last out on a pop-up to second base. She subsequently retired the side in order in the seventh.
“It’s nice to be able to have a team that has two (strong) pitchers,” said Cox, a lefthander who recorded six strikeouts. “It’s good to be able to not be the only one who can come in and finish.”
The Witches gave Cox the only run she’d need in the first. Lindsay Houp blooped a single to center, took second when the ball was bobbled, went to third on Deaven Smith’s base hit and scored on a wild pitch.
Brewer got its other two runs in the third, one scoring on an error and the other on a wild pitch.
The Witches did have plenty of chances to break it open — they had baserunners in every inning but the second — but coach Skip Estes’ club stranded 12 of them.
“We left too many people on base today, so I’m hoping the hitting comes around a little more,” Estes said.
Brewer more than made up for that with some stellar defensive plays in the field, with second baseman Sarah Babin diving for a sinking line drive to end the second inning while Houp made a nice stab of a liner hit to short to start the fourth.
“Defensively, we played outstanding. I was really happy with the defense,” Estes said.
Cox was consistently around the plate, recording only two walks while the Broncos had trouble laying off riseballs and catching up to Cox’s fastball.
“I thought I had pretty good control of everything,” Cox said, “and we just tried to get ahead in the count.”
Haradon was just as brilliant in coming in to record the save.
“They executed everything I called,” said senior catcher Jordan Nickerson. “They did a very good job.”
Estes used both pitchers consistently during the preseason and has liked what he has seen thus far.
“Both the pitchers pitched very well during the preseason, so I was real happy with the both of them,” he said.
Hampden was led offensively by Kathryn Gilio, who doubled in the fourth and singled in the sixth, but save for loading the bases in the sixth, the Broncos couldn’t piece together any big rallies.
“We just couldn’t put any good hits together,” said Hampden coach Rodney Wells. “Brewer made some good defensive plays on us.”
Houp and Smith were Brewer’s lone repeat hitters with two singles, while Kelcey Simpson, Molly Chapman and Cox recorded a base hit apiece.