Maybe it was the weather, which felt more like late May than late March.
Maybe it was the fact that the Field Falcons sported shorts rather than pants, producing that summer time feel.
Or maybe it was the adrenaline rush of playing the first game of the season.
Whatever the reason, the Field softball team _ and especially pitcher Becky Shanafelt _ was in midseason form in their non-league game at Kent Roosevelt Monday. The Falcons jumped on the Rough Riders early, taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning and eventually gaining a 7-0 win in the first game of the season for both teams.
One run would have been enough for the Falcons, because Shanafelt was in control the entire game in throwing a no-hitter at the Rough Riders. In a performance belying her initial outing of the spring, Shanafelt struck out seven, walked three and hit a batter, and allowed only one Roosevelt baserunner to reach third base _ and that came in the first inning.
From the second inning on, third base stood vacant for the Rough Riders.
Field coach Ray Dickerhoof said Shanafelt was pretty much on autopilot after the second inning.
"Usually I call every pitch," he said. "Today I called every pitch in the first inning, I called a few in the second inning and after that I didn't call any. She was in a rhythm and she was really pitching well."
Roosevelt coach Amy Larkin said her team was somewhat shorthanded, but refused to use that as an excuse.
"She's a good pitcher," said Larkin of Shanafelt. "She's very consistent. One of the problems we had hitting against her was we didn't have very much batting practice last week. Our batting cage in the gym was broke for a week and a half, and we had a lot of girls on vacation during spring break and two others are suspended.
"We didn't get the bat on the ball like we normally would have, but I don't want to take anything away from her. She's a very good pitcher and she pitched really well today."
The Rough Riders nearly got out of the first inning unscathed. Shanafelt's one-out double to right field got things started for the Falcons, but Roosevelt freshman pitcher Kellie Barabas struck out Tia Wilmoth for the second out.
Barabas then induced Lisa Betts to hit a ground ball that should have been the third out. However, a throwing error to first allowed Betts to reach safely, keeping the inning alive.
Beth Wright then singled to right to score Shanafelt with the game's first run and Jenny Trout followed with an infield single that brought home Betts for a 2-0 lead.
The Falcons plated two more runs in the fifth to break it open. Wright's infield single scored Wilmoth and another Roosevelt error allowed Betts to score for a 4-0 cushion.
The Rough Riders finished the game with four errors.
"We had four players out of position today," said Larkin, referring to her team's shakeup in the lineup. "Our whole outfield was out of position and that's where three of our four errors came from. We're real young _ we started two freshmen and two sophomores _ so you expect some mistakes early in the season."
The Falcons iced the game with three runs in the sixth.
After Barabas retired Ashley Ball for the first out, Shanafelt reached on a throwing error and the Falcons were in business again. Wilmoth followed with a double to deep left-center that scored Ball, and Trout's two-out double to deep left plated Wilmoth and Betts for the final 7-0 margin.
Dickerhoof said his team's early offensive output was the key.
"We came out (swinging) right out of the shoot," he said. "We were hitting the ball pretty hard. That's what I stress as a coach. I leave the pitchers pretty much to do what they've already been taught, because they've already developed the habits that they have by the time I get them. So I make sure we can hit the ball.
"At first we were tight and so was I. But after we got those two runs in the first inning and started hitting the ball, we loosened up. Overall I was pleased with our play."