By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
FULTON – Both Saltillo and Mantachie entered Tuesday’s matchup at the ICC Tournament searching for answers to a few questions as they prepare for the latter half of the season.
Both teams may have found the results they were searching for in Mantachie’s 9-4 victory over the Lady Tigers.
The Lady Mustangs have fought injuries and sickness at key positions, including to ace pitcher Taylor Barber, who has missed time with arm soreness.
The answer to those woes may be in the arm of freshman Tori Hendrick. Hendrick improved to 3-1 on the year after going 62/3 innings with only two hits allowed.
“She was wore out by the end,” Mantachie coach Noah Hamilton said. “She worked through. She walked a few, but she did well.”
Barber entered in the bottom of the seventh and recorded the final out for Mantachie (8-5), another encouraging sign for the Lady Mustangs.
“We’ve just got creeks and pains and hangnails and everything else,” said Hamilton. “But we’re starting to gradually get everybody back.”
For Saltillo (6-2), the challenge for coach Lee Buse is how his Lady Tigers will play without Hallie Frenn in the circle.
After Frenn threw a no-hitter in Saltillo’s 1-0 loss to Hatley earlier Tuesday, which was also their first loss of the season, Buse elected to throw four different pitchers against Mantachie.
“If we threw Hallie every game, then our kids get to be where they’re one dimensional in every aspect of the game,” Buse said. “We want to make sure those kids understand how to win when she’s not on the mound.
“Obviously we didn’t win, but I think we can take some stuff from this we learned.”
Allisa Patterson set the offensive tone in the top of the first for Mantachie by knocking a line drive two-run home run over the left field wall.
A six-run third inning, led by run scoring singles by Mallory Clouse and Hendrick, put the game out of reach for the Lady Tigers.
Hannah Harwood (0-1) started for Saltillo and took the loss after giving up four runs in two-plus innings.