POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – The Poland Bulldogs softball team came up with a big hit in the bottom of the fourth inning to break open a pitching duel and capture a 3-0 victory over the Mathews Mustangs in non-conference action Saturday afternoon.  That big hit came off the bat of the Bulldogs’ sophomore shortstop Mary Brant.

With the Bulldogs Katie McDonald and the Mustangs Emma Gates locked up in a pitching duel through the first three innings, the Bulldogs scored all the runs they needed in the bottom of the fourth frame. 

Following a lead-off single by senior Emily Denney, Brant smacked a one-out, line-drive no-doubter home run over the left-center field fence to stake the Dogs to a 2-0 advantage.

“When I went up to bat the first time, she threw me a first-pitch strike, but I didn’t swing at it.  I knew it was coming again, so I knew it would be a good pitch,” Brant described her home run approach.

The Bulldogs added a third run, and some insurance, in the sixth inning when Sophia D’Angelo drilled a single to center field scoring Brant from third.  Brant had led off the inning with a double to the left-field corner.  She moved to third on a stolen base.

McDonald picked up the victory for the Bulldogs with a complete-game one-hitter.  She would strike out ten Mustang batters while not issuing a free pass.

“Katie McDonald in the circle, you’re going to get that out of her every game.  She had her stuff today,” Bulldogs coach Jim Serich said.  “And Mary is a sophomore.  After watching what she did last year, we knew she was going to get better and better.  She is the anchor in the infield, but she has two seniors opposite her.  She is just a great athlete.”

The Mustangs senior pitcher Emma Gates suffered the tough-luck loss while also tossing a complete game and surrendering just six hits.  She notched eight strikeouts and only one walk.  Olivia Mathey collected the Mustangs’ only hit in the contest with a double in the first inning.

“Emma Gates threw a great game today,” Serich remarked.  “One mistake to Mary Brant.  But that’s the name of the game.  She is a good pitcher, and they are a solid team to play against.  That is why we scheduled them.”

“I told our team that our pitchers are not going to strike everybody out.  We’re not going to make every single play.  If you give up three runs to this good of a team, you have to find a way to win that game.  I was happy with our girls.  They made very few mistakes, either mental or physical mistakes.  The home run, that happens,” Mustangs coach Thomas VanKirk stated.

With the victory, the Bulldogs improve to 2-1 on the season.  The loss drops the Mustangs to 1-1 on the year.

The Bulldogs will try to keep building momentum on the season as they return to league action Monday when they host the Struthers Wildcats.  The Mustangs will try to bounce back when they host the Lordstown Red Devils Monday afternoon.