Shadow Ridge softball coach Julia Meyn knew she was inheriting a young team when she took over the program this season, with 10 of her 14 players underclassmen.
But she had two veterans in the middle of the lineup in senior Justin Garganese and junior Kate Dennis to make the transition a little easier for everyone.
Garganese and Dennis — the team’s Nos. 3 and 4 hitters — scored two of the team’s six first-inning runs Wednesday, and the host Mustangs whipped Legacy 12-2 in a five-inning Southwest League game.
“With the amount of freshmen that we have right now, this is a big deal to hit early like that,” Meyn said. “We’ve seen both pitchers before, so we worked on sitting back on it and driving it.”
Garganese finished 3-for-4 with a double and three RBIs, and Dennis went 2-for-2 with a double and two RBIs to lead the Mustangs (9-2, 5-0), who used three hit batsmen and four hits — including three doubles — in the first inning to take a 6-0 lead.
“Garganese is really stepping up,” Meyn said. “A senior, coming back from multiple injuries — double knee surgery — so this is her first year back. It’s good to see her hitting like she did … (Dennis) is our leader. How she carries herself is how this team will carry itself. Her momentum is their momentum. She roams this field. She just brings momentum to this program.”
Shadow Ridge got four runs from its first four batters of the game and batted around to take control early. The Mustangs scored another run in the second on an RBI single by Dennis for a 7-0 lead.
Dennis also had an RBI double in Shadow Ridge’s four-run fourth inning. She also caught the first four innings for freshman Alisha Schultz, who tossed a three-hitter and struck out four.
“That kid (Dennis), and I’ve coached travel ball for 15 years, is the smartest kid I’ve ever seen behind the plate (at catcher),” Meyn said. “She can call her own game, and pitchers will give her whatever she asks for. They have complete faith in her. And when she’s up to bat, she is a bat to be reckoned with because if she gets ahold of that thing, it’s gone.”
Legacy (10-14, 0-5) scored two runs in the fifth to extend the game. Kellie Nelson drew a one-out walk and scored on an RBI triple by Alyssa Sotelo, who scored on a passed ball to make it 11-2.
In the bottom of the inning, Shadow Ridge’s Garganese hit a two-out RBI single to end the game.
Contact reporter Ashton Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0430. Follow him on Twitter: @af_ferguson.