WALLA WALLA - Two teams at different points of their development moved along their paths here Tuesday in non-league girls softball action.
Mac-Hi, the experienced team with five seniors, came in looking to improve on a 10-3 record and build for the Greater Oregon League wars.
DeSales, coming off a third-place finish in state in 2010, came in looking to gain experience as the Irish graduated seven starters from 2010 and the 2011 roster lists only two juniors in addition to an eighth grader and five freshmen.
The Pioneers and Irish got what they wanted, although experience prevailed as the Pioneers broke open a scoreless tie with a five-run fourth inning and went on to improve to 11-3 with a 12-5 victory.
"You come out with a win, but today it was more about executing as we've got league Saturday," Mac-Hi coach Nicole Christian said. "We really need to get our bats going. We have the potential to be an excellent hitting team, and it took us until the fourth inning to get going. We're trying to find what's going to get us fired (up) for all seven innings."
In the circle, Mac-Hi's Kaitlin Erm and the Irish's Ashlyn Lyons both had shutouts and no-hitters going through three.
"The first three innings were great," Irish coach Russ Vera said of his team's play in only its third game of the season. "Then (after three innings) we had the mental lapses. With this being a young team and some of the girls having never played before, we're trying to work on the mental lapses. We've had to postpone four games because of rain, so we are behind everybody else. It'll come, as we saw in the first three innings."
The Pioneers took advantage of the Irish youth to score five times on only two hits in the fourth inning. Two errors, missed exchanges on pitched balls, and singles from Cheyenne Kessler and Kalyn Odman, and the Pioneers took control with a 5-0 lead heading to the home fourth.
"We're trying to get the passed balls down," Vera said. "They scored quite a few runs off passed balls. We're trying to find a catcher who'll stop that ball and we think we've found that in (sophomore) Bobbie Prior. This was her first time (catching) and I think she'll come around."
Prior's fourth-inning single knocked in the first Irish run, and DeSales clawed back with a two-run fifth. Stephanie Ferrel's one-out single was followed by eighth-grader Molli Lesko's second hit of the game, but Ferrel was cut down at the plate on a relay from Mac-Hi center fielder Breanna Crewse, to pitcher Shawney Garcia, to catcher Kessler at home to deny an Irish run.
Lyons doubled to left-center to score Lesko, and Lyons came around to score on a Pioneer throwing error, and DeSales was back in it trailing 5-3 after five.
"We (Mac-Hi) had some errors (three) today," Christian said. "We haven't been working on defense that much. It shows, but we know we have to get back to tough defense."
Kessler led off the Mac-Hi sixth with a home run just to the left of dead center, and the Pioneers exploded. Karli Cortez highlighted the six-run, four-hit rally with a RBI double as Mac-Hi ran the lead to 11-3.
After both teams tallied in the sixth, freshman Bri James' single knocked in Lyons, who had her second hit to lead off the seventh, to run the final to 12-5.
Lyons went all the way in the Irish circle and allowed six hits while striking out seven.
"Ashlyn (Lyons) is trying to do what she can to help the team," Vera said of his freshmen lefty. "We need eight other players behind her to back her up."
Kessler and Odman, with two hits each, led the Pioneer offense. Erm, Garcia and Megan Reed combined in the circle to limit DeSales to seven hits.
"We have a 1-2-3 punch (in the circle)," Christian said. "They are all so different. We might even be doing that (switching pitchers) kind of thing in league where we can't let their hitters get onto our pitchers."
The Pioneers and the Irish jump into league play Saturday.
The Pioneers, 0-2 in the GOL, travel to Ontario, and DeSales opens its Southeast 2B league season at home as it hosts Dayton.
Mac-Hi 12, DeSales 5
Mac-Hi 000 506 1 - 12 6 3
DeSales 000 121 1 - 5 7 5
Erm, Garcia (4), Reed (6) and Kessler; Lyons and Prior.
HR - Mac-Hi: Kessler.
Hits - Mac-Hi: Kessler 2, Odman 2, Carrillo, Cortez; DeSales: Lesko 2, Prior, Ferrel, Lyons 2, James.