Raiders down Falcons in opener

Mar. 28—CANFIELD — Senior centerfielder Gabby Barress got the Jefferson High softball season off on the right foot when she doubled on the third pitch of Wednesday's opener.

Barress advanced to third base on a wild pitch, then scored when South Range catcher Heidi Bartels made an errant pickoff throw for an early lead against last year's Division III state semifinalist.

It didn't last. Timely Raiders hits and several Falcons errors added up to a 13-3, five-inning victory for South Range.

"It definitely felt really good, especially coming out so hot in that first at-bat," Barress said of her double. "It brought the energy up in the dugout.

"It was a confidence boost because we know they are good competition," she said. "I think it's good to start off against good competition."

The Raiders (2-0, 2-0 Northeast 8) tied the game in their first at-bat when Keira Brogan tripled and scored on Anna Aey's sacrifice fly to Barress.

The Raiders proceeded to score three runs in each of the next four innings to earn the victory.

Despite Tuesday's downpour, Barress wasn't surprised the game was played.

"I did think we'd get the game in, I was hoping we would," Barress said. "I'm glad we did."

While South Range has a tarp to protect the infield, the outfield grass was anything but dried out, making maneuvering difficult.

Jefferson coach Seth Gilman described the outfield as "soft but it wasn't soaking wet.

"[Barress] had some issues when she tried to plant hard and change direction," he said.

Barress agreed.

"Oh it was muddy — my feet were sinking," she said of the outfield muck. "Definitely harder to run.

"I tried to stay out of the muddiest parts," she said. "I definitely had a few slips."

Defensively, the Falcons made a couple of stellar plays to boost pitcher Olivia Lewis.

In the second inning with the Raiders ahead 3-1, catcher Allie Hill threw to shortstop Kennidie Rogers to pick off Giada Pauline.

And in the fifth inning, Barress was up against the left-centerfield fence to snare a line drive smacked by pinch-hitter Kiera Wimer.

"Right up against the fence," Barress said. "It was right on the dirt.

"I was just full-blown going for it — I'm not scared of the fence, [it's like] it's not even there so I was fully committed to it."

Jayli Wilt (2-0) tossed a four-hitter for South Range, striking out nine Falcons, walking two and hitting two.

Hill, Rylee DeMattia and Rogers had the Falcons' other hits.

DeMattia's came in a pinch-hitting role with the bases loaded in the third-inning and drove in two runs.

"South Range is a great team," Gilman said. "Their players put a lot of time and energy into doing well.

"We were plagued with errors and mistakes today, and allowed more runs to score than should have," he said. "They hit the ball well, we've got to pitch better and play defense better.

"We've got to learn how to adjust and hit pitching," he said. "We should be able to hit this and we didn't."

Jefferson is scheduled to host Lakeview today.