MARIETTA — After two free passes led off the third inning, Marietta made Velma-Alma pay. The Lady Indians tagged the Comets’ pitcher for six runs in the frame, and all scored before Velma-Alma recorded an out.
The Indians christened their new diamond with an 8-0 triumph on Monday.
Pitcher Landry Willis recorded the five-inning shutout, walking one and striking out one.
“This game was maybe our hardest to win, just because of all the exposure,” Marietta coach Erik Hughes said. “Opening day is always tough to win, but when you add in a brand new field, a big crowd, the pressure is big. The fact that we can come in here with all that pressure and take care of business is big for us.”
Willis’ shutout and the clean defense behind her — Marietta committed one error, which occurred in the final frame — is a recipe for consistent success.
Hughes said it was the biggest reason why Marietta opens its 2014 campaign 1-0.
“Our defense and pitching was phenomenal today,” Hughes said.
Meanwhile, Velma-Alma’s pitcher struggled with command for much of the day. It cost her — especially in the third frame.
Ryleigh Harmon broke the game open with a three-run double to left field. Three hitters later, Cashlynne Williams clubbed the first home run, a three-run no-doubter to center field to extend the lead to 7-0.
Marietta lead-off hitter Gracie Campos got it started. She was hit by a pitch in her first two plate appearances, and drew a walk in her third trip.
“She’s fearless in the box,” Hughes said of Campos. “She’ll get up there and take one, if need be. And that’s what we need with all the girls: Somehow, and some way, you’ve got to get on base. That’s what we try to preach to all the girls. It doesn’t matter how you do it.
“The fact that Gracie does it a lot makes her a great lead-off hitter.”
Campos also made a stellar defensive play in center field to end the top of the third inning. Velma-Alma had a runner on second via a double, and Campos ranged back and to her left. Extending her left arm fully, she made the catch to preserve a 1-0 lead.
Her HBP also began the decisive half-inning.
“I expect us to make the routine (plays),” Hughes said. “Making great plays like that are a big plus for us.”
Marietta travels to Ringling today. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.