FORT PLAIN - After a rough start, the Fort Plain softball team regrouped for a strong finish in its 6-2 season-opening win over Canajoharie on Wednesday.
The Lady Hilltoppers fell behind 2-0 in the first inning after a two-run double by Sylvia McFarlane plated Brianna Slater and Allyssa Kilmartin.
Instead of letting the early deficit take them out of the game, the Lady Hilltoppers battled back.
Fort Plain’s Jenna Barhydt slides safely into home as Canajoharie catcher Lauren Balfe leaps to grab the high throw during Wednesday’s Western Athletic Conference game in Fort Plain. (The Leader-Herald/Paul Wager)
"This time, the girls just believed and they stuck with it," Fort Plain coach Katie McCumber said. "These girls, through their scrimmages, we've seen them improve, little by little. Today, they put it all together."
Fort Plain loaded the bases in its half of the first on three straight one-out singles by Allehah VanLoan, Abby Boyer and Kendra Trembley.
However, Canajoharie pitcher Shyanna Logan and her defense escaped the jam with a strikeout and a popout.
Fort Plain, which left six runners on base in the game, left another on base in the second after Jamie Fredericks reached on an infield single.
While the Fort Plain offense was clicking, Canajoharie's attack struggled after its first-inning outbust.
The Lady Cougars mustered just two hits after the first inning, a third-inning infield single by Slater and a fifth-inning single by Lauren Balfe.
"I think our nerves got the best of us today," Canajoharie coach Bridget Anderson said. "We're definitely much better hitters than we were today."
Fort Plain got on the board for the first time in the third.
Boyer smacked a one-out double down the left-field line before scoring after a pair of wild pitches to cut the Canajoharie lead to 2-1.
In the fourth, the Lady Hilltoppers took the lead for the first time, scoring twice for a 3-2 advantage.
Jenna Barhydt opened the inning with a bunt single before Fredericks singled to center-field. Barhydt scored on a sacrifice bunt by Sam Potter. Taylor Andrews, who pinch ran for Fredericks, scored on a groundout by Erin Nellis.
After a scoreless fifth inning, Fort Plain added three insurance runs in the sixth, getting singles from Barhydt, Fredericks and a two-run single from Tara Schuyler to make it 6-2.
In its final at-bat, Canajoharie loaded the bases on back-to-back errors by Fort Plain and a hit batter.
The Lady Hilltoppers escaped the jam when Fredericks struck out Morgan Gray and got Slater to pop out to end the game.
Fredericks earned the win in the circle for Fort Plain, allowing four hits, striking out four, walking one and hitting a batter.
Logan allowed 11 hits and six runs in six innings for Canajoharie.
In addition to earning the win, Fredericks also finished 3-for-3 at the plate for Fort Plain. Abby Boyer was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI for the Lady Hilltoppers and Barhydt was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Kendra Trembley was 2-for-3 with a double for Fort Plain, which had six different players record at least one hit.
"We looked good today," McCumber said. "We hit the ball well."
Slater was the only player with multiple hits for Canajoharie as she finished 2-for-4 with a triple and a run scored.
While the Lady Cougars' offense had its struggles Wednesday, Anderson was pleased with her team's defensive effort.
"I was a little nervous coming into this game with our defense because I have players in positions they've never played before," she said. "But they definitely stepped up and did what they were supposed to do."
Fort Plain (1-0 overall, 1-0 WAC) is scheduled to travel to Duanesburg on Monday for an 11 a.m. game, while Canajoharie (0-1 overall, 0-1 WAC) will travel to Herkimer today for a non-league contest at 4:30 p.m.
Fort Plain 6, Canajoharie 2
Canajoharie200 000 0 - 2 4 1
Fort Plain001 203 x - 6 11 3
Logan and Balfe; Fredericks and Trembley.