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Abby Robertson RBI lifts Williamsport softball, 1-0 over St. Mary’s in season opener

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Williamsport leadoff hitter Myla Kelley attempts to slide home against St. Mary's on Saturday.

Midway through the fourth inning, Williamsport’s softball team was getting outhit 6-0 by St. Mary’s. Despite that, the game was scoreless, both squads still looking for a spark to turn the tide.

Abby Robertson provided said spark in the bottom of the fourth by roping a ball into right field. The first of two hits all day for the Millionaires was enough to bring Ally Chilson — who took a walk prior — all the way home from first base.

Robertson’s RBI was the lone scoring play in a defensive slugfest. Williamsport defeated the Dutch, 1-0 at Elm Park Saturday.

“St. Mary’s being our first game to actually play, we knew their pitcher was tough, we knew she threw a riseball,” Robertson said. “I had my mindset to get the pitch I really wanted to get and if I had to take it to right field, I had to take it to right field.”

Kendall Young pitched a complete game for the Dutch (0-1) and lit up her batters all game. She struck out 14 and pitched four 1-2-3 innings.

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Williamsport shortstop Aubri Blair pulls down a line drive for an out against St. Mary's on Saturday.

The Millionaires (1-0) knew coming into the game the hits would be few and far between.

“I think we faced her four times before and every game is the same. The one time we beat her in extra innings,” Williamsport coach Chase Smith said. “She’s very, very tough, we know that. It was part of the plan all along, we said it was going to be a low scoring game all along and we needed to figure out how to get one somehow.”

Robertson added, “We were all talking about it. We knew she was good, she is a great pitcher. From last year, we knew she threw a riseball. We had the mindset that if her shoulders went up, we had to let it go. We have to get our pitch at the belt … it’s hard to lay off a riseball, it’s hard to do it. But it’s good to have teammates to back you up.”

While the hits kept coming St. Mary’s way through the first four innings, all offense ceased for the Dutch after Robertson’s RBI. Through the rest of the game, the Millionaires didn’t give up a single hit and complimented the lone scoring play with three 1-2-3 innings from the field of their own.

Layla Waldman pitched a complete game for Williamsport. While she threw just two strikeouts, the field backed her up and never let anything slip by, particularly through the later frames.

“It’s good having people out here in the field that can back us up here, too,” Robertson said on the Millionaires’ fielding. “You always have to back up your pitcher, and that’s what I think of. If I can get any ball, I’ll try to call it and get it my best.”

In the top of the fourth inning, Waldman pulled Williamsport out of a jam. With runners on third and second, the senior struck out the following batter to leave them stranded, preserving a goose egg on the scoreboard for St. Mary’s.

Waldman found her groove, but the Dutch kept the rhythm off the circle for much of the game.

“Steve Reed, our pitching coach, just said he saw more movement in Layla’s pitches,” Smith said. “The first inning, our pitches kind of weren’t taking the movement we’re used to seeing, and they were on her. We got lucky in the sense that they hit a lot of hard shots right at us in the first few innings. After that, I think Layla’s pitches started moving better.”

St. Mary’s was dealt a quick two outs to start the game after a ground out and fly out. Two runners got on base with back-to-back singles, but Chilson wiped the board with an out at first base.

“She had trouble spotting them in the first inning, she gave up an 0-2 hit in the first inning, which is very atypical of her,” Smith said on Waldman. “I think she just got better at spotting her pitches and the movement started becoming more evident too.”

Williamsport played solid damage control all game as Waldman got more and more comfortable on the mound. After the fourth inning, the hits disappeared from the top halves and Aubri Blair hit a triple for the Millionaires’ only other hit, but was beaten at home afterward on the following batter.

“When the big hit comes is what really makes the difference obviously. You don’t have to outhit them, you just have to hit at the right time,” Smith said. “(St. Mary’s) had runners in scoring position two or three times, but they just couldn’t get the hit they needed.”

The Millionaires are coming off a 2021 season that saw just one regular season loss and a Central Penn League championship. With a strong core returning and Myla Kelley — who batted .429, earned 21 RBIs, 26 runs and six triples last year — once again leading off, Williamsport has the talent to make another run for the District 2-4 Class 6A championship this spring.

Winning a tight contest against one of the top pitchers the Millionaires will see all season was early evidence of that on opening day.

“We know we’re very talented. They just needed a reminder of it,” Smith said. “Sometimes they get a tendency to be negative on themselves. I mean, the strikeouts hurt today a lot. But the win is ultimately what matters, so we can turn a blind eye to the fact we didn’t all perform great at the plate because we got a W. Hopefully it reminds them it’s a team game and we just need one big moment.”

St. Mary’s 000 000 0 — 0 6 0

Williamsport 000 100 x — 1 2 0

Layla Waldman and Abby Mahon. Kendall Young and Gianna Surra. W: Waldman. L: Young.

Top Williamsport hitters: Abby Robertson 1-2, RBI; Aubri Blair 1-3, triple. Top St. Mary’s hitters: Lindsey Reiter 2-3; Kendall Young 2-3.

Records: Williamsport 1-0, St. Mary’s 0-1

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