Kirtland powered its way to a 12-2 five-inning non-conference win over visiting Cornerstone Christian at Recreation Park on Monday.
Liz Vernon hit a solo home run and the Hornets collected three more extra-base hits in the win.
“It’s always great to start a season off with a win,” said Kirtland coach Jamie Kamensky. “We’re still in the process of finding our voice this year and this game is a big step in finding that. It was a great game to get us back in the flow of playing.”
Cornerstone Christian scored one run on a walk and a single in the top of the first but the Hornets responded with two runs in the bottom half of the inning and never trailed again.
Vernon drew a walk to open the bottom half of the first and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Katie McCollister then singled to put runners on the corner with no outs.
Emily Ungrady hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game and Haleigh Getchell singled home McCollister to give the Hornets a 2-1 lead.
Ungrady struck out six of the next seven Cornerstone hitters she faced and the Hornets exploded for five runs in the bottom of the third.
Vernon started off the inning with her solo shot.
“The ball was coming a little high but right down the middle,” Vernon said. “After leveling it out and then hearing the pop, I knew the stinging in my hand was a good one. It was a fantastic way to open the season; plus, it was great to finally get on the field after all the rain we’ve had.”
McCollister followed up Vernon’s homer with a single and Ungrady and Vikki Carriero both doubled. Julia Camino hit into a fielder’s choice to score the fifth run in the inning.
“Vernon is a triple threat at the plate,” Kamensky said. “She has speed, contact, and power. She’s a player to keep an eye out for this year. Ungrady and Carriero roped the ball pretty well today as well. It’s good to see our bats starting up. The outcome of our season is going to come with timely hitting, consistency, and execution. We have the pieces to the puzzle we just all need to connect.”
Kirtland scored four more runs in the fourth.
Getchell and Morgan Faber both singled and Kaitlyn Mancini doubled in her first career at-bat.
“Mancini stepped and had a very solid at-bat today,” Kamensky said. “She showed patience and confidence. She was able to step in and with two strikes she rocketed the ball to right center. It is nice knowing we have some depth in her.”
McCollister, who missed last season with an injury, and Carriero both finished with two hits while Carriero led the Hornets with two runs batted in.
“It’s great to see Katie McCollister back in action,” Kamensky said. “She’s a key player for us with speed and showed that today at the plate. Our outfield also shows promise starting (Savanna) Godfrey, (Samantha) Bates, and (Julia) Camino. We have a long way to go and have to grow up quick, but we saw a lot of good things today.”
Ungrady allowed one unearned run and struck out eight in three innings of work to pick up the win and Faber pitched the final two innings. She allowed one run on one hit and struck out one.
“Ungrady is getting back in the flow,” Kamensky said. “She’s got the drive in her to win and we saw that engine start back up today. Faber came in and threw two innings. It’s nice having a few options with pitching. This year, we have to be versatile and getting some innings out of Faber is a great supporting detail to that versatility.”
Kirtland travels to North on Tuesday.