On an opening day that had a little bit of everything, the Grizzlies ultimately walked away with two wins after a 20-0 blowout and a narrow 1-0 victory over the Bryan College Lions.
Senior first baseman Elyssa Melton blasted her first homerun of the season in game one earning herself Grizzly of the Day honors, as Taylor Hansis and Piper Wagner both threw shutouts in their first mound appearances.
Game one was action packed from the very beginning. Piper Wagner, transitioning to playing every day as an infielder when she isn’t pitching, got the scoring started with a missile between the legs of the Lions second baseman, scoring two. The Grizzlies didn’t let up, putting up seven total runs in the first frame.
In the second inning, Melton sat back on a hanging change-up in an 0-2 count and drove it over the left field fence for a two-run shot.
Shortstop Tori Robinson led all batters in hits and RBIs in the first game going 3-4 with five runs driven in and a walk. Even with the eventual total of 20 runs on 17 hits, one run would have been plenty for senior pitcher Taylor Hansis. She finished the game with 10 strikeouts, facing only four over the minimum while surrendering one hit and three walks.
“I was so happy to have Taylor out there on the mound game one, especially starting senior year. I have been with her for four years, it’s pretty awesome,” Melton said in an interview with GGC Athletics.
Much Closer Game Two
The second game saw the Grizzlies strike early once again, as senior third baseman Crystal Busbee smashed a one-out triple to left in the second inning. She came home to score a few batters later on a pitch that hit sophomore second baseman Holly Janco in the helmet. To everyone’s surprise, this would be the only run scored by either team for the duration of the game.
“Game two I think our timing got off and we couldn’t make that in-game adjustment. Unfortunately, we didn’t produce as many hits, but now we understand some of the things we have to work on to have better timing when you go from in the zone aggressive pitching to out-of-the-zone off-speed pitching,” Head Coach Kat Ihlenburg said.
Even with the Lions out hitting the Grizzlies seven to three in the second game, the immaculate defense behind Piper Wagner allowed them to still emerge victorious.
One of these game-changing defensive moments came in the top of the third when Robinson fielded a chopper at short and fired home to cut down the would-be tying run at the plate, and in enough time for senior catcher Courtney McKenzie to then throw down to second and get the batter attempting to advance to second for an inning-ending double play. The Grizzlies then turned another huge double play in the seventh inning, reversing any momentum Bryan College had amounted late.
“To pitch two shutouts back to back, it is an absolute credit to Tonya Medders our pitching coach and how she prepares those hitters,” Ihlenburg said.
The Grizzlies softball team also hosted University of Rio Grande and Bluefield College in a round robin style Grizzly Open tournament this past weekend in which every team played each of the other teams on both Friday and Saturday. GGC ended the weekend with two victories over each team and no losses, outscoring all opponents 67-12 in their 6-0 start to the season.
Next up for the Grizzlies is a tough tournament down in Auburndale, FL, this weekend where the team will play six games. After that, catch the team back in action here in Lawrenceville next Tuesday, February 19th, for a doubleheader against William Carey beginning at 2pm.