Gateway softball benefits from on-field experience
The Gateway softball team won only two games last season.
The Gators equaled that total through only four games this year with back-to-back victories over Greensburg Salem and Armstrong last Wednesday and Thursday.
Those games were part of a busy stretch for Gateway after rough weather kept the team off its field for the better part of a month since preseason practices began March 5.
“We were stuck in the gym for so long. We only had two outside practices before we started playing,” Gators coach Scott Lewis said.
“No matter what the outcome is, the girls are just happy to be playing. The girls are happy to be out of the gym.”
Lewis said he saw improvement in a number of areas from a 12-2 mercy rule loss to Penn-Trafford in the opener April 5 and a 16-5 rout of Armstrong last Thursday.
Gateway entered last Friday’s game against Woodland Hills 2-2 overall and in Section 1-5A.
The Gators were to face Plum on Monday and Franklin Regional on Tuesday. The matchups with the Wolverines and Mustangs and the rematch of an April 10 game with the Panthers were to be contested past the deadline for this week’s edition.
Gateway is scheduled to host Armstrong on Thursday and Kiski Area on Friday. All of the games are section contests.
In the opener against Penn-Trafford, the Warriors broke open a close game with three runs in the bottom of the fourth and five more in the sixth to end the game.
Kayla Gratton and Sydney Hunter had two hits each and an RBI for the Gators.
“We learned a lot from the Penn-Trafford game,” Lewis said. “There were a number of little things we had to clean up from not being outside much.”
Gateway returned to action against Franklin Regional and suffered an 8-5 loss.
“We played pretty well against Franklin Regional despite losing,” Lewis said. “We played with more confidence.”
That confidence extended to the next day as the Gators edged Greensburg Salem, 3-2, for the team’s first win of the season and Lewis’ first as Gateway’s coach.
Lewis coached the past seven years as a Gators assistant.
Gateway led Greensburg Salem, 3-0, after three innings before the Golden Lions scored one in the sixth and one in the seventh.
“We made all the routine plays we should have,” Lewis said. “We only had one error. We got the lead early and were able to hold on with good defense.”
Gateway got on the board in the second as Sydney Hunter singled, moved to second on a Sam Hunter sacrifice bunt and scored on a single from Mykaila Jackson.
Gionna DeLuca doubled to start the offense in the third and scored on a triple from Emma Kennedy. Pitcher Maura Ryan then helped herself by hitting a sacrifice fly that scored Kennedy.
Dannielle Taylor had two doubles.
Ryan scattered five hits and struck out eight to pick up her first victory. She is expected to be the pitching workhorse this year.
Gateway pounded out 21 hits in its win against Armstrong.
“It’s hard to face live pitching in the gym,” Lewis said. “They had three games under their belts before Armstrong, and the offense came alive.”
Gateway hit three home runs against the River Hawks. Kennedy went 4 for 5 with a solo home run.
The Gators led 8-4 after four innings but scored eight runs in the fifth.
Taylore had four hits, Sam Hunter went 3 for 3, and Gratton, DeLuca, Jackson and Jordan Henderson had two hits.
“The hitting was contagious,” Lewis said. “Everybody had at least one hit. They hit the ball hard.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.