Anthony Wayne got a one-two punch from two seniors to get an early leg up on what is expected to be a terrific race for the Northern Lakes League softball title.
First baseman Jamie Westenkirchner smacked two home runs and drove in four, while pitcher Emily Kurfis fanned 14 batters and allowed just three hits as the Generals (5-0, 1-0 NLL) defeated Perrysburg 5-1.
"I just battled, found my pitch, and hit it," said Westenkirchner, who broke open a 2-1 game with a three-run homer in the sixth. "It feels good, especially in a tight game like this. You can just tell when it comes off your bat. We came out focused and ready to go. We're determined every single pitch. This was a confidence booster."
Perrysburg (6-2, 0-1) also is expected to contend along with Southview and Springfield.
"We were very pumped up," AW coach Carolyn Vogtsberger said. "We were ready for this. Last year we went to Perrysburg and lost this game. I told them this time it's at our house and it's different."
Last year the Generals started the season 0-2 in the NLL, but came back to finish 12-2 and win the title for the fourth time in five seasons.
"So it was important," Vogtsberger said. "This was a big test for us. Everyone was looking at this game as the indicator of where everyone is at."
Kurfis mixed her locations well and changed speeds with an effective rise ball that kept the Yellow Jackets off balance.
"It's a mental game. I know I can do it," Kurfis said. "When it gets intense, you just have to zone everything out. When we're ahead it gives me a huge advantage."
Perrysburg coach Ryan DeMars said his senior pitcher, Lindsay Rich, made just two mistakes. Rich allowed four hits and struck out seven. She fanned at least one batter in each inning.
"Lindsay pitched a really good game," DeMars said. "It was a couple of pitches and miscues that led to the runs."
AW struck for two runs in the first. Leadoff hitter Sarah Bores doubled and went to third on a wild pitch. The senior then scored on another wild pitch for a 1-0 lead.
Westenkirchner then drilled a lined solo shot that cleared the right-centerfield fence for a 2-0 Generals' edge.
Both pitchers then kept things quiet over the next three innings. Rich sent the side down in order in the second, fourth, and fifth innings, while Kurfis did the same in the second, third, and fourth.
But Perrysburg got on the board with two hits in the fourth to pull within a run. Felicia Eisenbrandt doubled to start the rally. Kayla Rice's infield single up the middle then scored pinch runner Raegen Vickers to make it 2-1.
But Kurfis then got out of the inning with her 10th strikeout.
AW then put it out of reach in the seventh. Bores again led off with a single, Brianna Megyesi reached on an error, and Westenkirchner blasted another homer to nearly the identical spot.
The team's No. 3 hitter has started the season with 10 hits in 17 at-bats (.588).
"Jamie has just been on fire," Vogtsberger said. "Bores has also been hitting well."
Contact Mark Monroe at: email@example.com or 419-724-6354.