Trojans win big in softball opener on the road

PRINCESS ANNE — Pushing 10 runs across the plate in a bat-around first inning put the Trojans on the fast track to victory here Thursday, March 21.

Kent County High School went on to defeat host Washington, 30-5, in the first varsity softball game of the season for both schools.

Sophomore Michelle Menequin scattered three hits — all singles, all in the three-run fourth inning — and struck out four batters to get the win.

The game was called after Washington batted in the last of the fifth inning due to the 10-run “mercy” rule.

The Trojans gave Menequin all the run support she needed in the first inning, when they sent 15 batters to the plate. Talicia Wright, Menequin and Anna Bitter, batting first, second and third in the order, respectively, each scored a pair of runs in the 10-0 start.

Still in the first inning, Madisyn Raleigh singled with one away, advanced on a Heather Bilbrough base hit and a free pass to Melissa Landon, and then scored what would hold up to be the winning run when Wright, in her second trip to the plate, was hit by a pitch.

Kent County also batted around in the second and third innings, piling up 13 more runs as the game got out of hand.

Raleigh tripled to lead off the seven-run second inning, which also featured extra-base hits from Wright, Bitter and cleanup batter Kate Cannon.

Cannon finished with four hits, all doubles, and reached safely in five of six plate appearances.

The top of the order — Wright, Menequin and Bitter — collectively scored 15 runs.

Landon, who batted in the No. 9 slot, scored four runs; she drew four walks and reached on an error.

Washington scored two runs with two away in the first inning, and three runs on three hits, two walks and a couple of errors in the fourth inning.

While the Trojans graduated only one player from last year’s 5-14 campaign, they still are relatively young and inexperienced.

Landon (center fielder) and Bitter (infielder) are the only returning seniors.

Cannon (first base, pitcher), the 2023 team MVP, Paige Miller (catcher) and Raleigh (outfielder) are returning juniors.

Bilbrough, Asia Wilson and Laila Johnson played junior varsity ball last spring.

The only true newcomers are freshmen Wright, Ariyana Green and Aaryona Wesley.

Michelle Phillips, who returns as the head coach at alma mater KCHS, said this is a coachable group but “it’s just going to take time to come together as a team.”

Because of a small turnout, KCHS is fielding a varsity-only program with a modest roster of 12 players.

It was a tough start to this week with back-to-back losses by shutout to Mardela on Monday and Colonel Richardson on Tuesday.

Kent was hitless against Mardela’s Ava Twilley and had only one baserunner — Menequin, who worked out a full count walk with one away in the last of the fourth inning — in the mercy rule-abbreviated loss.

Phillips said the 10-0 score of Tuesday’s game at unbeaten Colonel Richardson (4-0) is not a fair reflection of how well the Trojans played.

It was 0-0 until the bottom of the fourth when “three big errors with two outs” opened the floodgates.

Makayla Newcomb (12 strikeouts) spaced out two hits and did not issue a walk for the winners.

Kent County’s scheduled game Wednesday, March 27 at home against St. Michaels — which would have been its third game in as many days — was postponed because of rain.

The Trojans are idle until April 3 when they return from spring break.

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