Wapakoneta Redskins varsity softball coach Bill Sammons searched for the words for a moment.
“I was actually — I don’t know how you say it — ‘cautiously surprised’ at our team,” Sammons said. “We’re young at some spots. But I was surprised because I really think we can compete for a league title.
“The only issue is, we’ve got five percent we’ve got to work on. And that’s the hardest because it’s the little tiny things we’re not doing right.”
The Redskins made their case with a solid performance in a 7-1 win over the Sidney Yellow Jackets in their season opener Tuesday at Wapakoneta High School.
Wapak showed it had both power and the ability to play small-ball, knocking out 10 hits in the win.
“We hit the ball real well. I thought we saw the ball real well,” Sammons said.
Senior shortstop Courtney Knippen proved the bulk of the power doubling down the line in the third inning and crushing a mammoth home run to lead off a three-run fifth.
Pitcher Renee Lovett drove in two of those fifth-inning runs with a deep triple over the head of Sidney center fielder Stephanie Davis.
On the mound, Lovett allowed just four hits and one unearned run in seven innings, striking out five and walking just one for the win in her Wapak varsity debut.
“She did pretty good,” Sammons said. “She has some work to do to stay ahead in the count. She’s throwing a few too many pitches. But as a sophomore, I think she stepped up and pitched real well tonight.”
The Redskins got on the board first in the second. Catcher Kati Sawmiller led off with a single to center and moved to third on bunts from Lovett and Marcie Grothause before scoring on an error.
Sidney tied the game at 1-all on two hits and an error in the third.
Knippen led off the home half of the inning with a double down the right-field line and scored on an infield single by Sawmiller, who moved to third on a throwing error before scoring on a single by Lovett.
Knippen made it a 4-1 lead with her homer in the fifth. Ashley Knippen singled to center and stole second before Sawmiller drew a walk. Both then scored on Lovett’s triple to give Wapak the 7-1 lead.
The Redskins return to action at 5 p.m. Thursday at Marion Local.