Softball builds early season momentum, takes down McAuley 14-2

Eric Miller | Online Sports Editor

Led by Elle Buffenbarger’s two-hitter and Elana Harrison’s four RBI’s, the Mason softball team picked up its sixth straight win to begin the year, taking down the McAuley Mohawks.

The Comets, who are ranked first in the Cincinnati area coaches poll, beat the the Mohawks, who are currently ranked number six, 14-2 in five innings. The Comets started fast and never looked back. After a 1-2-3 McAuley top half of the first inning, the Comets strung together five consecutive hits that led to three runs in the bottom half of the first frame. Senior third baseman Erin Rockstroh led the way; going three for three from the plate, with three runs, a walk and an RBI.

Head coach Liann Muff said the Comets’ quick start produced more success at the plate.

“Hitting is contagious and once they started hitting, everyone just followed suit,” Muff said. “That’s our goal every game is to come out in the first inning and get going; make the other team feel us and feel like they can’t play with us. The girls executed that great today. She (McAuley pitcher Aubrey Brunst) is a good pitcher. We were a little surprised to be up by seven in the second inning with no outs.”

The middle of the Comets lineup was powered by sophomores Elana Harrison and Zoe Bishop, who were a combined five for six at the plate with seven RBI’s between them. Junior pitcher Elle Buffenbarger picked up her fifth win of the young season and added to her league leading 44 strikeouts, by punching out five Mohawk batters and allowing just two hits in five innings of work.

Buffenbarger’s exceptional start can be attributed to her consistency, according to Muff.

“Elle has done a great job of being consistent, getting ahead of batters and allowing her defense to make plays,” Muff said. “She leads the league in strikeouts right now by quite a bit. Her consistency is really paying off for her.”

The Comets’ second inning started much like the first, with the first seven batters reaching base. Senior infielder Olivia Hopkins drove in her eighth run of the year with an RBI single, and Bishop brought home two more runs later in the inning with a single of her own.

Junior catcher Brooke Rice drove in two runs in the third frame with a hot shot single into left center field. Sophomore Jill Aquilla scored two runs, stole two bases and hit a pair of singles out of the nine spot in the Comets lineup.

The Comets scored the first 14 runs of the game before surrendering two runs to the Mohawks in the top half of the fifth inning. With the win, the Comets improve to 6-0 and currently sit atop the GMC standings.

The Comets will finish the week with GMC opponents Middletown and Sycamore on Wednesday and Friday and close the week with a Saturday doubleheader against Centerville and Granville.

Muff said her team is off to a great start but still has plenty to work on heading into the heart of the season.

“It’s been a good start, but we still have a lot to learn and a long way to go to get to where we want to be,” Muff said. “We just try to get better every day. We’ve got to eliminate mistakes we are still making. Baserunning mistakes today, not finishing the game; those two items. Those things have haunted us a little bit, and in a tight game, you’re not going to have the same result. Finishing is something that’s going to be our priority as well as eliminating those mental mistakes.”

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Photos by Staff Writer Erin McElhenny