MARYVILLE, Mo. — Maryville softball (0-1) got its season underway in a non-conference matchup with Lathrop Tuesday night at the Hound Pound. The visiting Mules came away with a 6-3 victory.

Although it was not the result the Spoofhounds had hoped for, head coach Chandra DeMott was positive following the game.

“I’m not disappointed with where we’re at right now,” Maryville head softball coach Chandra DeMott said. “I started three freshmen tonight, one of which hadn’t played ball in three years and was my starting shortstop.

“I think a lot of what we saw early on was just nerves.”

After recording two quick outs in the top of the first inning, Maryville gave up two runs on three hits, including a ground-rule double by freshman Avery Clay that plated senior Hannah Frye. Clay scored on a single by Seirra Brassfield before Spoofhound pitcher Riley Gray, a senior, got the final out of the inning on a fly out to senior center fielder Jessica Finch.

Maryville made some noise of its own in the bottom of the opening inning on singles from Briley Watkins and Ashlyn Alexander and a fielder’s choice by Finch, but were unable to get a run across, trailing 2-0 after one frame.

Gray settled in for the Spoofhounds and worked a 1-2-3 inning in the second, using her defense to retire the Lady Mules in order. But Maryville’s bats were silent in the second as well.

Two more runs scored for Lathrop in the third on a walk, a fielder’s choice and two errors.

“We’re going to work on focusing the rest of this week to clean up some of those errors, but all in all I was very proud of where the girls are at,” DeMott said.

The Spoofhounds didn’t let the errors throw them off stride.

Watkins picked up her second hit of the night with a double and pinch runner Miquela Giesken later scored on a double by Finch, her second safety of the game.

The Maryville defense tightened up and did not allow another run until the top of the seventh inning. 

Meanwhile, in the Spoofhound half of the fifth, the heart of the order was at it again.

Watkins smacked her third hit of the game, followed by a double from senior Jana Walker. Giesken, running for Watkins, was thrown out at home, but a single from Alexander moved Walker to third base.

Walker and Alexander both scored on Finch’s two-RBI smash past the first baseman, pulling the home team to within two runs, 5-3.

Gray continued to work around trouble leaving two Lathrop runners stranded in the sixth, but the Mules tacked on one more in the seventh and the Hounds were unable to answer in the bottom of the final frame.

Gray finished with six strikeouts and two walks in seven innings of work.

Finch drove in two of the Spoofhound runs with a 1-for-2 performance at the plate. Watkins was 3-for-4 with two doubles.

“She (Gray) consistently has performed well for us,” DeMott said. “She definitely stepped up as a senior and as a leader for us tonight, especially on the mound.”

DeMott said after the game that she thinks with experience, her young lineup will improve.

“It was a nasty change,” DeMott said. “Props to their pitcher, because she was working what she needed to.

“Defense is where my main focus is as a coach, because I think if you can’t handle defensively, it doesn’t matter how good you are as an offensive team.”

Maryville will face another non-conference opponent when it goes on the road to Worth County on Monday.

The first Midland Empire Conference action for the Spoofhounds will be on Tuesday when they host the Cameron Dragons at the Hound Pound.

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Phil Cobb is the founder of Cobb Publishing, LLC, which manages Forum Media Solutions, The Maryville Forum and The Post.