NAPLES – The pitching rubber was moved back 3 feet, to 43 feet, to get more offense in high school softball. But it’s likely that nobody anticipated what would happen Thursday afternoon in the season opener between Greely High and host Lake Region.

Greely sent 16 batters to the plate in the second inning, scoring 10 runs, and the Rangers went on to an 18-6 six-inning victory.

There were only two strikeouts in the game, both by winning pitcher Mary Zambello, as both teams put the ball in play.

But Lake Region committed eight errors to aid the Rangers’ offense.

“You can’t give a team extra outs like that,” said Lakers Coach J.R. Warren.

“We need to play defense. It was shocking to see us make that many errors.”

You knew it was going to be a hitter’s day after the first inning, when both teams scored twice. Greely got its runs on a double steal and a single by Michaela Finnegan; Lake Region got a leadoff home run from Chelsea Meyers and an RBI single by India Bell.

Then came the second. The Rangers had five hits and the Lakers made three errors to combine for the 10 runs.

Finnegan had a two-run triple, and Katie Whittum and Danielle Cimino had RBI singles.

Three Greely runs scored when a runner from third beat a throw home on an infield grounder. Three others scored on errors.

That big inning relaxed the Rangers, especially Zambello, who got stronger as the game went on.

“It took the pressure off the batters, the pitcher, everyone,” said Finnegan, who drove in three runs. “We just relaxed and had fun the rest of the game.”

And it showed. The Rangers played errorless ball over the final three innings, getting a double play from second baseman Bryce McEwen (who fielded a grounder, tagged a runner and threw to first) and a twisting, over-the-shoulder catch by Finnegan at first to end the game.

“I know this was only Game 1, but if we play like that we’ll be very happy,” said Rangers Coach Mike Robb. “You can’t control the results, but I love the effort.”

And the hitting. The Rangers, said Zambello, “seemed to be in a season-long slump last year. But we’re definitely swinging the bat this year.”

And Zambello pitched well after the first couple of innings. “I finally got the hang of it the last couple of innings,” she said. “My motion was a little off, but once I started throwing more than just one pitch, it got me leveled.” 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

[email protected]