TOLEDO – Saturday was cause for celebration for the Whiteford Bobcats softball team.
The Bobcats opened the 2021 season, playing its first game since 2019, picked up a win and head coach Matt VanBrandt picked up his first victory as the Whiteford softball head coach.
“We were happy to be competing for the first time in two years,” VanBrandt said. “We made some mistakes in both games, but I’m happy that we had the chance to make those mistakes, play the game, have fun, and learn. It was a great day.”
The Bobcats had just five pre-season practices before Saturday’s doubleheader against Toledo St. Ursula.
St. Ursula took the first game 8-2, but the Bobcats bounced back to win the nightcap, 10-2.
In the opener, junior Berlynn Keller gave up three earned runs on six hits and struck out five. Sophomore Aly VanBrandt scored both Whiteford runs. The Bobcats had just one hit.
The second game was a different story.
Freshman Whiteford pitcher Unity Nelson gave up just one earned run while striking out eight.
At the plate, Keller went 3-for-4 with a home run, double and four RBI. VanBrandt scored four runs, Ambrelle Billau, Anna VanBrandt and Patrinia Marsh each had two hits.
“In game two we were able to force them into some bad decisions due to our speed,” Coach VanBrandt said. “We were able to put the ball on the ground more in game two and use our speed.
“Defensively we played much better. We only committed one error in game two.”
Aly VanBrandt reached base safely in seven of eight at-bats.
VanBrandt was making his softball coaching debut. Kris Hubbard retired after coaching the Bobcats from 1979 through 2019. Whiteford hired John Morningstar, but he resigned before coaching a game due to a job conflict. Whiteford hired VanBrandt, who formerly was the varsity baseball coach.
In his debut, he was coaching against a familiar face in Jeff Eisenbrandt.
Eisenbrandt coached one of VanBrandt’s daughters in travel softball and Matt and assistant Whiteford coach Audra VanBrandt coached with.
Ohio schools have been practicing for several weeks.
The Bobcats are up next Tuesday against Bedford, where Audra VanBrandt was previously head coach.
Photo: Aly VanBrandt steps into the batter’s box for the first at-bat of the 2021 season. Whiteford opened the softball season Saturday, playing its first varsity softball game since 2019.