TAYLORSVILLE — There is nothing like starting the softball season with a tough test.
That's why Kelly Anderson, coach of the top-ranked Syracuse Titans, and Rich Kaelin, coach of the third-ranked Taylorsville Warriors, chose to play each other in the first game of the season.
The result was just what each coach expected, except maybe for the final score — a 10-10 tie.
The game was called in the sixth inning when near white-out conditions made playing the seventh inning unwise.
Anderson and Kaelin were looking for the same thing when they scheduled each other to start the softball team. Among the bright spots in Tuesday's game was Jaycie LeBaron.
"She did really well," said Kaelin of his freshman pitcher, "until she couldn't feel her fingers."
She hasn't had a lot of experience in the circle.
"She's never even had a pitching coach," Kaelin said. "She's just kind of done it."
What really worked well for both teams were their offenses, with both teams earning 10 hits each. Taylorsville got the bats going early, scoring runs in every inning but the first.
Cami Mathews smacked a double and Karlee Jensen had a triple. Jensen went 2-for-3 with two RBIs, while freshman Tasia Taylor went 2-for-3. Maddie Cushing went 2-for-2 and scored three runs for the Warriors.
"I felt really, really good about the game," said Kaelin. "Every run they scored, we answered. They had the bases loaded at one point and we stopped them."
Syracuse hit well, but it was in the sixth inning, when the Titans were able to string those hits together in a five-run effort that gave them a 10-8 lead.
The Warriors answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the sixth, after which officials and the coaches decided to call it a game.
"The one thing that could have helped us is if we talked to each other a little more," said Kaelin.
Taylor Tann pitched an impressive game for Syracuse, and she got a lot of support from her teammates. Bailey Carter hit a two-run home run, while Tann had a double and Brittany Vasquez hit two doubles.
"It's kind of how I expected it to go," said Anderson. "I thought we'd swing the bat pretty good, and I thought we'd struggle in the field because we haven't spent a lot of time outside yet."
He returns five players with significant varsity experience, but acknowledge the team was "young" in some spots. He was grateful to get six innings against a program that is a perennial power in 5A.
"I like to play the best teams around," he said. "I'll play anybody. That's how you find out where you're at."
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