HILLSBORO, Mo. – Mineral Area debuted four new softball pitchers on Thursday from what figures to be its deepest staff in several years.
But a season-opening doubleheader against NJCAA Division I foe Jefferson presented an expected tall task, and minimal run support only shrunk the margin for error.
The Vikings collected 20 combined hits during the two games on their home diamond, and posted a pair of abbreviated wins by run rule, 9-1 and 10-2.
Abby Rollet paced Jefferson in the first contest by going 3-for-3, and right-hander Kaitlyn Williams threw a five-hitter with only an unearned run allowed.
West County graduate RikkiLyn Wright got the start for Mineral Area as a semester transfer after initially signing with the John A. Logan program.
She nearly escaped the first inning unscathed, but Rollet sliced an opposite-field RBI double that tapped the chalk with two outs before coming home on another double by Skylure Barrlow.
The Lady Cardinals produced a similar threat during the top half. Wright singled on the second pitch of the game, but was tagged out between third and home after attempting to score on a shallow fly ball.
Emily Brewer made it 3-0 with an RBI double in the second inning, and Jefferson tacked on two more in the third with the assistance of two walks.
Mineral Area wasted a leadoff hit by catcher Sydney Stevens in the second frame, and Wright was left aboard in the third after notching her second single of the game.
Williams lost the shutout bid on a throwing error in the MAC fourth after Abby Bahr singled and JaNiah Jones battled to punch the eighth offering she saw into left field to extend the rally.
Jefferson would continue rolling, however, as leadoff batter Abby Tiemann sprinted out a comebacker to the circle and sparked a two-run bottom of the fourth.
Second baseman Karlie Missey made an outstanding stop to her right and flipped to shortstop Madison Binkard for a force play as Jefferson stranded the bases loaded.
But a 7-1 margin grew again in the fifth, and Hannah Karl ended the game with an RBI single that was misjudged in the outfield with the breeze blowing toward home plate.
Wright lasted 3 1/3 innings with three strikeouts while giving seven runs on seven hits. Summer Maxwell relieved to get the next four outs, but committed an error that preceded two unearned tallies.
Williams needed only four pitches to cruise through the top of the fifth.
Jefferson grabbed immediate control of game two when five hits against Alyssa Rennick resulted in a 4-0 advantage.
Central graduate Mady Hart drove in the second run with a single to right field, and crossed the plate along with Abby McAteer when Brewer belted a two-run double to left-center.
The cushion was sufficient for Jefferson pitcher Corryn Hill, who scattered six hits and recorded eight strikeouts without issued a walk over five innings.
Binkard followed a single in her previous plate appearance with an RBI ground out after Bahr singled and Missey doubled to greet Hill in the fourth.
But the Vikings padded their 5-1 lead with four more tallies. Taylor Barnes capped her 3-for-3 effort with a bases-clearing triple on a 2-0 pitch that chased Rennick following back-to-back walks.
Mineral Area sophomore Aubrie Venegas provided defensive gems in each game of the sliding catch variety in center field. The latter grab was on a sacrifice fly by Rollet.
Bahr finished 2-for-3 to pace the Lady Cardinals, and temporarily prolonged the action with an RBI single in the fifth after pinch-hitters Kristen Sampson and Madyson McDermott singled.
MAC reliever Kati McCormack retired her first three batters faced, but McAteer ripped the first delivery in the bottom of the fifth over the left-field wall for a game-ending home run.
Tiemann tripled and scored in the second inning, and matched McAteer by going 2-for-3 overall for the Vikings (4-2), who netted at least one run in nine of the 10 innings contested on Thursday.
The Lady Cardinals (0-2) will travel to Arkansas State on Saturday.