Amherst’s Mallory Harrell, a junior making her first varsity pitching start, allowed a single to Dukes leadoff batter Erin Reisinger. Harrell didn’t allow another hit the rest of the way, at one point retiring 12 of 13 Wellington batters.
She wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the first after walking the two batters who followed Reisinger.
And Comets catcher Katie Hoerig launched a three-run home run over the center-field fence in the fourth inning, which gave them a 9-0 lead. Harrell followed with a homer of her own over the fence in right-center, creating the mercy-rule margin.
In the fifth, the Dukes’ Sami Cucuzza reached on an error leading off and Harrell hit the next batter, Emilee Esterly, with a pitch. Again Harrell got off the hook, getting two of the next three batters on infield pop-ups and the third with her fourth strikeout.
“This was my first actual varsity pitching game,” Harrell said. “My dropball was working very well today. On my home run, (the ball) was inside. I just hit it, got lucky and it went over. I think it was a fastball.”
The senior Hoerig said the Comets defense is a strong point.
“I think all the girls are picking up where it may have been missing last year,” Hoerig said. “They’re definitely coming together as a team and they’re having fun out there. They all have each other’s backs, and that’s what I like about it. We have a lot of team bonding. We do a lot of things together.”
Hoerig said she had been watching Wellington pitcher Alli Rangel closely before she homered.
“I was like, ‘Man, she’s throwing strikes right down the middle on the first pitch,’” she said. “The first pitch, I saw it coming in and ‘Boom!’, it’s outta here. I was like, ‘That’s it.’”
Ashlee Dahman and Brooklyn Gonzalez scored ahead of her.
Amherst has four freshmen on the roster, three of whom started: Dahman in center field, Ashley Cogdell at shortstop and Kelsea McGraw at first base. The fourth, Madyson Harris, the team’s go-to courtesy runner, scored the Comets’ fifth run, subbing for Harrell, who had singled in the third.
Dahman, second baseman Gonzalez and Harrell all had two hits. Gonzalez scored three runs and Dahman two. In addition to Harrell, Harris and Hoerig, the other Amherst runs were scored by McGraw and Katelyn Pittman.
The Comets scored two runs each in the first and third innings, one in the second and five in their bat-around fourth.
Amherst coach Bill Matthews said Hoerig missed the first three weeks of practice because of a condition that caused fainting spells.
“She was found to have (a syndrome), which is a hereditary thing where your heartbeat races, then slows down and causes you to pass out,” he said. “She went to the doctors and they did all kinds of tests and she was cleared to play now. The first couple times it happened we thought, ‘What’s going on here?’ It scared everybody.”
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or email@example.com.