BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
ELDON – Without any varsity experience on the field, Holy Trinity Head Coach Loren Menke said a lopsided season-opening loss still held promise.
The HTC girls fell 11-1 to Cardinal of Eldon in Monday’s statewide opening of the summer sports season, after the coronavirus pushed start dates back and contracted practices this spring. It was the first time a Holy Trinity Catholic girls varsity squad had taken the field in eight years.
Mary Hellige went the distance for Holy Trinity giving up 14 hits, but five came in the first inning before the freshman settled into her first varsity outing.
“Mary pitched a very good game, especially after the first inning where she didn’t get great help,” Menke said. “Then she settled down and pitched very well for three innings and we got some good defense. It was a very promising start in my mind and I hope the girls see it that way, too.”
Holy Trinity got on the board first when Brooke Mueller reached on an infield error and then swiped second before coming around to score on another error off Laura Mehmert’s shot to short.
The Crusaders were retired in order in the second and third innings, but Mehmert and Raquel Schneider got things going with one out in the top half of the fourth. Mehmert singled to short center and then Schneider singled to short right field, but Mehmert was gunned down at second. Kelli Meierotto would ground out to the pitcher to end the inning.
Anna Sobczak would be the only other Crusader to get on when she was walked with two outs in the fifth, but the Comets put the game away in the bottom half.
The Crusaders put the first seven Comets on base and gave up four runs before recording the first out. But a line out, a fielder’s choice, and Hellige’s first strike out ended the inning.
Hellige would hold the Comets scoreless in the second and third inning, but Cardinal would tack on two more in the fourth for a 6-1 lead.
But again in the top of the fifth, the first four hitters reached before Hellige got Alexia McClure to fly out to center. Rachel Lewman and Ava Ferrell then scattered back-to-back base hits, with Ferrell’s scoring Maddie Cloke to make it 11-1 and invoking the 10-run rule.
“I didn’t feel like the score was an accurate picture of the game,” Menke said. “We fought hard. We gave up four runs without recording an out, but then we got out of that and kind of held them until the fourth inning.”
Menke said overall he was happy with the way the girls played despite some mistakes that he said can be corrected.
“I think we’re more competitive that I even thought we’d be. We definitely had some nerves, but I don’t know if that was it, or just some timely miscues. Just a couple of those can cost you a lot,” he said.
Schneider and Mehmert had the only hits for the Crusaders. Kayla Box and Sobczak both reached on walks. Hellige threw 90 pitches over five innings of work in the loss.
The Crusaders also lost the junior varsity match 7-2.
The Crusaders take on Central at home in South Park Tuesday night with junior varsity starting the action at 5:30 p.m.