Panthers Softball Powers Way Past Opponents, Off To 2-1 Start

Maumee senior Lilly Duling sends the ball flying during a game against Ashland Blazer in Myrtle Beach. MIRROR PHOTO BY JOE NEGRICH

BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — Coming back after a Division II regional appearance last year, the Maumee softball team needed some new faces to fill big holes this season.

Based on their first three games at least, the Panthers don’t appear to be losing any steam.

Maumee started the season 2-1, beating Archbold (9-4) and Perkins (10-6) after opening the season with a tough loss to Clay (11-10).

Through three games, sophomore Autumn Gugger has led at the plate, going 10-for-13 with seven runs and six RBI. In a 10-6 win over Perkins, Gugger went 3-for-5 with a run and five RBI, hitting a double and a home run.

Also against Perkins, Lilly Duling went 2-for-3 with a run and two RBI, smacking a home run as well. The senior has gone 5-for-12 with three runs, seven RBI and two homers.

Sophomore Taylor Smith went 5-for-13 with five runs and an RBI in the three games.

All told, the Panthers scored 19 runs on 41 hits for a .418 team batting average.

“I kind of figured going into season we could be very good at scoring runs,” said Maumee coach Brian Jones. “Not sure if you will see that kind of runs being scored in league play; there are some really good pitchers in the Northern Buckeye Conference.”

Maumee is one bad inning away from a perfect start. The Panthers led Clay 6-0 after four innings of the season opener, but the Eagles put up seven runs in the fifth and broke open a tie game with four more in the seventh.

“Yes, it was a heartbreaker,” Jones said. “We played really well against a really good team and had one bad inning. I think this will help us in the long run to build some character, kind of like the (Bowling Green) loss in extra innings did last year.”

Two players have seen time in the pitching circle for Maumee this year. Hannah Ruiz has thrown 14 innings and given up only five earned runs for a 2.50 ERA, allowing eight hits and five walks with 18 strikeouts. Freshman Julia Coutcher has thrown seven innings, giving up eight hits and seven earned runs with six walks and five strikeouts.

Maumee was scheduled to play three games in its Myrtle Beach trip earlier this week before opening up NBC play next week.

For Jones, the annual trip south is about having a team bonding experience.

“We want this trip to be about having fun and making memories,” he said. “We do some fun activities like dinner, a scavenger hunt and games on the beach, and last but not least, to play some good competition in nice weather.”

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