Orioles softball begins title defense with big win

Ethan Denton

VALLEY CENTER, Kansas–If any team was looking forward to getting back on the field this spring after COVID-19 took away the 2020 season, it was the Augusta girls softball team.

Coming off a state championship in 2019, the 2021 group now has the opportunity to defend that crown, and they got things started on Thursday at the Valley Center Invitational with a convincing 13-3 win over the Campus Colts.

One way to look at the Oriole offense in the contest was if you were bringing out the lawn mower after the winter time. It may take a couple of tries to get it started, but eventually it fires up and goes. Augusta was stymied through three innings, but then once they got going, there was no stopping them.

Augusta player Gracie Perez makes contact with a pitch during play against Campus at the Valley Center Invitational.

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“We haven’t played for two years,” Augusta coach Rhett Mallon said. “You expect a slow start and I’m glad they rebounded and once we got going, it kept going.”

Morgan Pennycuff took command in the circle and pitched effectively throughout. Campus would score a run off a wild pitch in the second for a 1-0 lead.

In the fourth, Ashlyn Bowen got the Orioles on the board with an RBI single and that was followed by a two-run single from Ivory Rightner to make it 3-1 Augusta.

Pennycuff kept the Colts’ bats quiet and the Orioles continued to surge. Bowen drove in two more runs for a 5-1 lead. RBI base hits from Gracie Perez and Keelynn Barnett made it 7-1.

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Campus got two runs back in the fifth to draw within four, but Augusta responded with a six-run sixth inning to remove any doubt. Pennycuff shut out Campus in the sixth to end the game by the ten-run rule. Bowen finished with five runs driven in and if this first game is any indication, another season of highlights is in store for the program.

“The girls have been pretty excited, keeping their heads up,” Mallon said. “I’ve been very happy with the way we have been practicing.”

The competition stiffens quickly. Augusta will next take on Derby who rolled over Life Prep Academy on Thursday. It will be a matchup of powerhouse programs looking for a signature win early in the season.

Augusta 13, Campus 3

Augusta 000 346 X – 13

Campus 010 020 X – 3