Lauren King receives congratulations after smacking a solo home run to start the scoring in a 3-1 Whitewater win. (Staff Photos by Christopher Dunn)
Alyssa Angelo makes a spectacular diving catch.

Key region play kicks off early in softball this season, and Whitewater is getting a jumpstart in the standings. The Wildcats went on the road Tuesday night and edged out Starr’s Mill 3-1 in a showdown highlighted by strong pitching and defense.
Jordan Roy led off the game with a single for the Wildcats, but she would be stranded with the help of a diving catch by Starr’s Mill centerfielder Lea Duben. In the bottom half, Kate Ashmore was just inches foul away from a near home run. Dodging the bullet, pitcher Sarah Middleton settled down to strike out Ashmore and the next batter to get out of the first unscathed.
The Wildcats struck in the second, Lauren King smoking a solo home run to center field. A spectacular diving catch by short stop Alyssa Angelo would keep the margin at 1-0.
Whitewater looked primed to pad their lead in the fourth, but Wakana Sato would come on in relief for the Panthers to shut the door. Facing a two on, one out jam, Sato recorded a strike out, then plunked a batter to load the bases. She would recover, snaring a liner back up the middle for the third out.
Ruth Jones led off the fifth with a walk for the Cats, then was joined on base after a Katelyn Perry single. Jordan Childress made a tremendous diving stab and flip to second for the second out, but Jade Clemons would single a run home for a 2-0 lead.
Whitewater used small ball to add an insurance run in the sixth. Kinsey Sords led off with a walk, then moved around to third on a pair of sacrifice bunts. Jordan Roy singled her home for a 3-0 advantage.
Starr’s Mill got two on with one out in the bottom half on a Sato infield single and a Duben walk, but the rally would be killed by a 5-3 double play.
The Panthers would finally get to Middleton in the bottom of the seventh. Singles by Shelby Daniel and Laura Sellers would set the table for an Emily Nieuwstraten base knock to plate their first run. Childress would move the runners up with a sac bunt, before Middleton settled back down and retired the final two batters to seal up the 3-1 win.
Middleton would go the distance for Whitewater, allowing just 1 earned run. Abbey Brady took the loss for Starr’s Mill, giving up one run in three-and-one-third innings. Kate Ashmore would throw out two would-be base stealers from behind the plate for Starr’s Mill.