Ross holds off Talawanda for softball victory

Myrissa Combs may have to showcase her leadership attributes a little more than she had expected this season.

But the Ross senior said she’s perfectly fine with that.

“I’ve always been told that I’ve been a natural leader,” said Combs, the lone upperclassman on the Rams’ roster. “I know all of these girls. They’re like my kids. It’s like I know I have to take them under my wing and keep them going.”

Sophomore Joslyn Crowley, freshman Paige Baker and freshman Juilianne Combs each recorded two hits, and Marissa Combs kept things cool, calm and collected as Ross staved off a late Talawanda surge to register a 10-8 victory on Thursday night.

“I’ve known these girls since they were all little,” said Combs, a Murray State commit. “They’ve been playing with my sister, and she’s a freshman. I know all of these girls personally. Even in practices and stuff, they’re always following me around — watching what I’m doing.

“Especially out here today — Talawanda would get one or two here and there. I was just making sure that everyone was staying positive, and they were all doing their thing. When we would have moments, I just said, ‘Everybody, let’s breathe. We’ve got this.’ These girls are amazing. They’ve got it. They just need a little calmness in them sometimes.”

Ross (2-0) had two freshmen in the pitcher’s circle — Baker and Taylor Bertram — who tossed a combined nine hits, gave up three earned runs, walked three and struck out nine.

“It’s kind of hard to find the definition right now for our team because we’re so young,” Rams coach Christi Luckett said. “I have several freshmen and several sophomores. Right now, they’re still trying to find a way. What’s most impressive is that they keep battling. They find a way to make it happen.”

Luckett made note of Ross’ season-opening win against a competitive Taylor squad earlier in the week. She hoped the momentum would carry into Thursday’s Butler County clash against Talawanda (3-1).

“Tonight was no different. I just felt like they kept fighting,” Luckett said. “We got a little flat there towards the end. But I think sometimes, you’ve got your upperclassmen who know the excitement of this game. Yeah, we’re not in the same league with them anymore, but it’s still a big game for these girls. Getting the younger ones on board and to understand that this is a big deal. It has them battling.”

Talawanda senior McKenna Weekley went 3 for 3 and scored twice, while junior Kylie Cobb (2 for 4, two runs, two RBI), sophomore Kaylee Griffin (2 for 3, two runs, RBI) and freshman Quinn Frieden (2 for 5) also contributed at the plate.

The Brave tallied a run in the top of the first, but the Rams scored four in the bottom half to take the lead. Ross scored four more in the second and never trailed the rest of the way.

Talawanda outscored Ross 6-2 from the third inning on before the Rams held off the Brave’s rally in the final inning

“Say little when you win. Say less when you lose. So, we didn’t have a long conversation,” Talawanda coach Scott Davie said. “Just too many mistakes early in a lot of phases of the game. But I loved the no-quit — right down to the last pitch. So that’s good stuff particularly from a younger team that is still trying to figure out how they’re going to operate.”

Talawanda, which also has a roster filled with sophomores and freshmen, started the season with a win over Edgewood and a double-header sweep of Arcanum.

“I like where we’re at,” Davie said after Thursday’s game. “It’s a learning process. I think most of these girls are going to walk away thinking about the plays that they didn’t make. We left some plays out there defensively. We left some pitches out there. We were not effective on some pitches, and that was across the board. There were a couple approaches at the plate that the girls will make adjustments on.”

Both teams hit the road next. Ross travels to Beavercreek on Saturday, while Talawanda visits Lakota East on Tuesday.

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