For one inning against Mount St. Charles on Thursday, the Toll Gate softball team looked like the team it hopes to be this season.
For the other six, the Titans weren’t even close.
Toll Gate had just four hits through the opening six innings, falling in an eight-run hole. It rallied to make things interesting in the seventh with a six-run showing, but Courtney Iadevaia struck out as the potential tying run in an 8-6 loss.
The Titans are still looking for their first Division I victory, as they dropped to 0-4 with the loss. They’re one of three winless teams in the division, and they’ve been shut out in two of those losses. Mount improved to 3-3.
Only one-fourth of the way through the season, Toll Gate isn’t ready to panic just yet. There are some positives, and the weather has seemed to take more of a toll on the Titans than anything else.
With windy conditions making everything difficult on Thursday, the Titans committed just one error, but they misplayed a number of fly balls that fell in as base hits.
“It was a combination of things today,” said Toll Gate head coach Shana Willis. “The weather was definitely a factor. However, they had to play in the same conditions. This wind was unbelievable today.”
Jamie Hopgood went 3-for-4 at the plate to lead the Titans, but the rest of the offense couldn’t get much done against Mount freshman Taylor Newcomb. They finished with eight hits on the day, four of which came in the final inning.
Toll Gate stranded at least one runner in every inning.
“It seems to come in spurts and then we seem to not get the hit with runners on base,” Willis said. “We can’t seem to put it all together yet. But I think it will eventually come. Everyone in the batting order is capable of hitting. It’s just they all need to hit together.”
Titans’ pitcher Courtney Marsh had little trouble throwing strikes through the wind, but Mount put the bat on the ball and more often than not did some damage.
The Mounties scored one in the first on an RBI double by Taylor Dill, then grabbed three in the fourth. Briana Castro sparked the charge, leading off the inning with a solo home run to center field. Later, Rachel Coia knocked in a run with a single to right field and she scored on a pop-up single by Esther Plouffe that was misplayed and landed behind shortstop.
Marsh gave up two more runs in the fourth on a two-out, bases-loaded single by Coia. That made the score 6-0.
“Courtney Marsh pitched a great game considering (the wind),” Willis said. “It was tough, with a couple balls in the outfield here and there that maybe would have been caught.”
Toll Gate’s best chances to cut into the deficit prior to the seventh inning were in the fourth and fifth innings, when it stranded two runners each time. In the fourth, Courtney Conklin led off with an infield single and Karley Mallette reached on an error. But Newcomb struck out the next two and retired Marsh on a groundout to get out of the jam.
The following inning, Jenna Beauchamp singled with one out and Hopgood doubled with two outs, but Conklin grounded out to keep Toll Gate scoreless.
Finally in the seventh, the Titans put it together, but it was too little, too late. Iadevaia had an infield single and Beauchamp and Laura Salisbury walked to load the bases with nobody out. Hopgood followed that with a two-run single. Mallette and Arizona Hunt-Kirkland knocked in runs with singles, and two more came home on a groundout by Breana Coleman and an error on a ball hit by Marsh.
With marsh on first and Iadevaia representing the tying run, Newcomb buckled down and threw three straight strikes to end the game.
“I’m very proud of the girls,” Willis said. “They didn’t give up. Going into the seventh down eight runs, it’s very easy to hang your heads and call it quits. But they fought hard and never gave up.”
Castro had a big day at the plate for the Mounties, finishing a triple shy of the cycle while going 4-for-5. She had a pair of doubles and the home run.
With the majority of the season still in front of them, the Titans are hoping to break into the win column soon and start showing some consistency. They’ll have three chances this week, as they’re at Chariho today at 4 p.m., they host Cranston West on Wednesday and they host East Providence on Friday.