SEASON PREVIEW: Maxwell softball rolls in opener

Maxwell High School sophomore Audrey Pearson launched a solo home run over the left-field fence and pitched five relief innings to nab the victory in the Lady Panthers softball team’s 19-9 rout of Gridley in Thursday’s season opener.

Pearson combined with starter Madi Miller on a three-hitter. Miller, a senior, cruised through the first inning but walked the first two hitters of the second, prompting the pitching change.

Pearson, who began the game at third base, also had control problems but pitched her way out of bases-loaded jams in the second, fifth, and sixth innings. The hard-throwing right-hander gave up seven runs (all earned) on three hits, 13 walks, and one hit batter.

Miller, batting left-handed out of the leadoff spot, slapped a double down the left-field line and bunted for two hits. She finished 5-for-5 with four runs scored to lead Maxwell’s 20-hit onslaught.

Mallory Mathis smashed a double and a triple, finishing 3-for-5 with a run batted in and three scored. Pearson also scored three times, adding a second RBI in the sixth on a deep flyout that scored Mathis.

Juniors Tiffany Jenkins and Hannah Azevedo also went 3-for-4 with two RBI each. Azevedo doubled, Jenkins scored twice, and fellow junior Brenda Cano smacked a pair of base hits up the middle, knocking in one run and scoring two.

Maureen LaGrande hit a two-run single; Sarah Munk and Megan Dunlap added run-scoring singles; and LaGrande, Dunlap, Munk, and freshman Jilliann Wilson crossed the plate for the Lady Panthers, who erupted for seven runs in the second and put crooked numbers on the board in every inning.

Miller, who moved to second base when Pearson came on to pitch, started an inning-ending double play in the fifth. Miller snared a line drive and flipped the ball to LaGrande at first to cancel out a runner who was unable to tag up in time.

Azevedo’s two-run single in the sixth ended the game, enforcing the 10-run mercy rule. A seventh inning would have been impossible though, due to the dwindling daylight. The game lasted approximately two and a half hours.

Maxwell (1-0) is hosting Mercy High School of Red Bluff on Tuesday at 4 p.m. and will remain at home for the Maxwell Tournament on March 16-18.