WENDELL — With conference play fast approaching, Garner softball coach Moe Barbour has been trying to rest senior standout pitcher Lauren Marbrey whenever he can to make sure she is rested come time for the Greater Neuse River Conference.
On Friday at Corinth Holders, the plan fell perfectly into place as freshman Libby Bynum went the distance for a complete game victory en route to a 9-2 non-conference triumph for the Trojans.
“We had Libby throw last night and she threw a good ball game and I think she’s getting better each time out,” said Barbour, referring to Bynum’s part in a win over Holly Springs the night before. “I know she’s going to give up some runs, especially against good teams like this here.
“Our plan is to play good defense behind her and try to outscore the other team.”
Garner did just that thanks to a great defensive game at shortstop by Kelsey Bryan and a grandslam from Alisha Josie that clinched the contest in the top of the sixth inning.
Bryan made nine putouts on the night, which included her starting a key double play in the bottom of the seventh inning to hold off a potential Pirates’ rally and an impressive play up the middle earlier in the game that Barbour, a longtime New York Yankees’ fan, described as “Derek Jeter-esque.”
Marbrey, who played third base, drove in a pair of runs in the third inning when her shot to deep right field slammed off the fence and Bridgette Kirkland also plated two runs in the fifth with a base hit to left field.
But it was Josie’s blast in the sixth inning, with the bases loaded that all but iced the game for Garner, which moved to 5-1 on the season.
“It felt awesome because I’m just getting out of a slump with that hit,” Josie said. “I knew it (was gone) when I touched it.”
On the other end of the spectrum, the Pirates were just unable to come up with the timely hit other than a Kelsie Narron two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Brandy Davis and Kayla Narron each sent a shot to deep center field only to have Garner’s Josie snag both long flies on the warning track.
Corinth Holders was also denied in the bottom of the third inning when the Pirates stranded two runners after a pair of hits and a pair of Garner errors.
A defensive play flashed by catcher Brooke Kamphuis and Bynum was particularly disheartening as Kamphuis raced to track down a wild pitch and tossed the ball to Bynum, who applied the tag on the Pirates’ McKenzie Latham, attempting to score from third on the play.
Kayla Meares registered nine strikeouts in the loss but her outing was complicated by four Pirate errors.
“The pitching was very good tonight,” Corinth Holders coach Jessica Potter said. “It was just one big hit and then a few errors that cost us.”
Meares singled twice and Latham also recorded a base hit to account for the remainder of the offensive production for Corinth Holders.
The Pirates moved to 2-3 on the season but Potter has no doubts about what her team can do.
“I have every bit of confidence in the world that they can get it done,” said Potter. “We’ve just got to find the right mix of what works and what doesn’t.”