02/21/11 — MOC-Shepherd softball

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MOC-Shepherd softball

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 21, 2011 1:47 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Jaime Kylis-Higginbotham is convinced good things are happening on the softball diamond these days, but the Mount Olive College coach still has a few issues to solve.

Especially pitching.

Shepherd (W. Va.) University tallied four runs with two outs and 0-2 pitching counts, and claimed a 5-2 victory in game two of a doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Nancy Chapman Cassell Field. The Trojans seized the opener, 4-0.

Freshman right-hander Carly White nearly worked out of trouble during the early stages of the nightcap. She induced a 1-2-3 double-play ball from Nichole Pitcock, which put two runners in scoring position.

Shepherd answered with a two-run RBI single and Megan Holmes' home run to put the game out of reach.

"We have to figure out how not to give up key hits on two outs and two strikes in the count," said Kylis-Higginbotham. "That was our same problem last year. That's where we're struggling and it's unfortunate, since it's a mental issue, it's hard to fix. We have to have some growing up to do in the circle.

"Once we do that, we'll be fine."

In the opener, Kristin Ware tossed a complete-game, two-hit shutout. She recorded nine strikeouts in the circle and got plenty of run support.

"Kristin, she has been doing such a great job for us," said Kylis-Higginbotham. "She kept them off balance. She really has great command in the circle right now."

Katie Devenuto supplied a third-inning, RBI sacrifice fly and Kelly Minshew plated Devenuto with an RBI double in the fifth. Robbin Kennedy clubbed her third home run of the season in the sixth inning.

Through 10 games, Kylis-Higginbotham has been pleased with the team's offensive and defensive intensity. The Trojans' middle infield, led by Minshew, has turned several double plays.

Two starters missed the Shepherd game due to illness and catcher Rebecca McDaniel has been lost for the season after suffering an injury against Mercyhurst. Kylis-Higginbotham is shifting players, who are working hard to adjust and be productive on each pitch.

"We're playing good softball, that's for sure," said the confident Kylis-Higginbotham. "We're playing some good teams which prepares us for conference play. I think good stuff is happening."

MOC (4-6 overall) returns to action Tuesday at Francis Marion (S.C.) University. The doubleheader starts at 1 p.m.