CONYERS - The Salem softball team needed to make just a few more plays - offensively and defensively - in its Region 8-AAAA South opener against perennial power Loganville on Tuesday.
The Lady Seminoles (5-3 overall) put up a spirited battle but dropped a 5-0 decision to the Lady Red Devils (4-4 overall).
"I told girls that really it was a 1-0 or at most 2-0 game," Salem coach Stephanie Bassett said. "We had a couple of key errors that allowed them to score. But, at the same time, I'm completely proud of our team. Loganville is solid offensively and defensively. They hit top to bottom (in their lineup). I'll put my defense out there against them any day."
After taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, Loganville broke open the game in the top of the fourth against Salem, taking advantage of two fielding miscues.
Jamie Cyrus singled to lead off the frame and then Brittany Cordell followed with a bunt single just out of the reach of Salem pitcher Rylee Rogers.
In fact, Rogers almost worked her way out of the jam by striking out Kimberly Reed and inducing Kensey Caldwell to pop up.
However, Loganville pitcher Katy Lewis followed with a deep drive to left field that bounced off the glove of Salem's Mackinzy Rogers, allowing both runners to score.
The Lady Red Devils also added runs in the sixth and seventh innings.
Salem turned in two outstanding defensive plays. In the second inning, right fielder Kendra Jenkins made a lunging catch on a ball hit down the line. In the fifth, second baseman Taylor Beauchamp snared a line drive that saved a run.
Offensively, the Lady Seminoles did not convert their opportunities against Lewis, who tossed a four-hitter and finished with 15 strikeouts.
Salem's Jessica Vason led off with a double in the second inning and moved to third on Rylee Rogers' perfect sacrifice bunt. But Baker struck out the next two batters to end the threat.
Salem also left Tori Beauchamp stranded at first after a leadoff single in the fourth.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Lady Seminoles got off to another good start with back-to-back singles from Joy and Jessica Vason.
But, once again, Lewis bounced back and her pitched way out of the jam to complete the shutout.
"We just didn't get our hits together. We got girls on and then we left them on. We couldn't get the hits together, and you can't score that way," Bassett said. "We definitely have things to work on, but I'm proud of our progress. We're working on this team every game, every inning, and I couldn't be more pleased."
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at email@example.com.