By Scott McNeish
Herald Assistant Sports Editor
CLINTON — Not the same old Clinton softball team.
The River Queens boast a souped-up offense that feasts on opportunities and prides itself on taking extra bases. A defense that averaged almost an error an inning last season looks sound, stingy, confident. The pitching is young but talented.
Clinton displayed it all in a season-opening 11-0 mercy-rule win over Camanche on Thursday afternoon at Chancy Park.
“We're going to be a much different team,” Clinton coach Trina Reed said. “We're excited for what's to come, and we'll see what happens. This could be a huge year for Clinton High softball.”
Clinton (1-0) posted five-spots in the third and fourth innings, while holding Camanche (0-1) to one hit.
“It was a nice way to come out and start the season with a win like that,” Clinton outfielder Katelyn Ryan said. “It really gets us pumped up for the rest of the season.”
Clinton eighth-grader Maddison Daniels earned the pitching win in her varsity debut. She allowed one hit, struck out six and walked none.
“It was fun,” said Daniels, who also went 2-for-3 at the plate. “I was placing the ball well and getting ahead of their hitters.”
Thirty-seven of her 54 pitches went for strikes, and she encountered only two three-ball counts. She faced one jam in the fourth after a leadoff double, but the right-hander retired the next three hitters to escape.
“She's going to do well for us,” Reed said. “She can put the ball where she wants, and she throws well for an eighth-grader. We're proud of what she's done so far.”
Camanche, which has four eighth-graders and four freshmen, committed eight errors in the contest. In Clinton's five-run third, the Indians made four errors, plus two balks.
“We're young. We're inexperienced,” Camanche coach Troy Dodd said. “Some girls are making that transition from ASA ball to varsity ball. Things are a little different. Our inexperience showed, but it's good for the girls to get out here and see some situations. We'll come around.”
Colleen Ryan's RBI triple in the first gave Clinton an early 1-0 lead. In the third, Indian throwing errors put runners on second and third with no outs. Katelyn Ryan ripped a single to left for a two-run lead.
Another Indians fielding error allowed the third run to score. Then Camanche starter Heather Kibler committed two consecutive balks, which plated two runs.
“When you come on the rubber, you have to have your hands apart,” Dodd said. “She was coming on the rubber with her hands together.”
Clinton's eighth-graders closed the game in the fourth. Davis ripped a two-run single, and later in the frame Daniels drove in the Queens' final run. Daniels allowed a baserunner in the fifth, but she retired her final two batters to secure the win.
A victory that showed the revamped Queens might have a special summer in their future.
“I didn't think we'd come out right away and 10-run somebody,” Daniels said. “It was impressive for our first game.”
In the sophomore game, Clinton rallied from a five-run deficit to post a 13-8 win. The River Queens scored five in the second, five in the third and two in the fourth to secure the victory.
Clinton’s Breezy Mussman had three hits. Keirstyn Davis had two hits, including a triple, and three RBIs, while Brittney Peska added two RBIs.
“Our defense start off a bit shaky, and we weren’t being aggressive,” Clinton coach Micah Cewe explained. “But after our jitters wore off after a couple innings, we started hitting the ball and our defense came together. The girls played well, and it’s always good to get that first win.”
Scoring by innings
Camanche 000 00 — 0 1 8
Clinton 105 5x — 11 10 2
Heather Kibler and Devanne Marik; Maddison Daniels and Keirstyn Davis. Two or more hits — Clinton (Katelyn Ryan, Daniels, Laece Combs) . 2B — Camanche (Brooke Cochran); Clinton (Erica Florence). 3B — Clinton (Colleen Ryan). RBIs — Clinton (Katelyn Ryan 2, Davis 2, Florence, Colleen Ryan, Daniels, Combs).
Scoring by inning
Camanche 061 10 — 8 11 2
Clinton 155 2x — 13 10 5
Allie Lefebure and Devanne Marik; Courtney Havlock and Haley Huebuer. Two or more hits — Camanche (Kiber, Lord); Clinton (Breezy Mussman 3, Keirstyn Davis) . 2B — Camanche (Lord); Clinton (Mallory Horner, Havlock). 3B — Clinton (Davis). RBIs — Clinton (Davis 3, Brittney Peska 2, Horner, Laura Mataya).
By Scott McNeish