After having three non-conference games and its home invitational rained out, Grand Haven's varsity softball team had to be happy to finally be able to take the field on Monday against Zeeland East.
Going up against Chix senior pitcher Brooke Leonard wasn't what they were looking forward to, however.
The 5-foot-4 hurler stood tall against the Bucs' hitters throughout the majority of the team's season-opener at Grand Haven High School, limiting the hosts to just two hits through five innings as the Chix built a comfortable 8-0 lead.
The Bucs tried to make some late-game noise as the rains fell harder in the sixth and seventh innings, but they couldn't put together a serious rally in their 9-2 setback.
Leonard's final stat line was impressive: seven strikeouts, just one walk and five hits allowed to a Bucs' starting lineup that features six freshmen or sophomores.
"We're young. We're going to make some mistakes," said Grand Haven coach J.R. Serna. "But I feel this is the type of team that is going to learn from those mistakes and bounce back through the course of the season.
"Our hitting today was hit-or-miss. We just couldn't get those timely hits, but it will come," he added. "And facing Leonard was tough. She's a quality pitcher. I was told she's going to Cornerstone next season, so she's obviously talented."
Grand Haven was dealt a tough break from the home plate umpire in the first inning that ultimately cost the Bucs three runs. Grand Haven starter R.J. Morrow appeared to have worked out of a bases-loaded jam with a strikeout, although the call at the plate was somewhat unclear. Even the Zeeland East base runners left the field towards the dugout thinking the inning was over, yet the pitch on the 3-2 count was officially ruled a ball.
"It was just one of those bizarre things," Serna said. "It sounded like he said 'strike,' but it's just one of those things where you need to play through it."
To read more of this story, see today's print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.