PALMETTO - The past two regular seasons, Saint Stephen's softball teams have gone undefeated only to lose in the early rounds of the state playoffs.
Falcons coach Fred Sosnoski figured this season he'd schedule more local teams to prepare his squad for stiff competition in the postseason.
"It's a passage by fire," Sosnoski said. "We are throwing these girls to the fire, so they know what it's like to play tough games, and win tough games."
Monday night, Saint Stephen's got a taste of the hometown competition in the Palmetto Tigers.
The experience didn't go so well.
Palmetto defeated the Falcons 3-0 in a non-district contest at Blackstone Park.
The Falcons (0-2) were held to a hit behind a stellar pitching performance by Tigers senior ace Brittany Cummings. She hurled a complete game, taking a no-hitter in the top of the sixth inning before Falcons first baseman Jessica Ashley hit a double down the third base line to it break up.
Cummings said she didn't realize she was that close a no-no.
"If I would have known, I probably would have thrown more selectively," said Cummings, who also hit two singles and scored two runs. "There will be other times."
In the first inning, Cummings singled and eventually scored, giving the Tigers (1-2) a 1-0 lead. A triple by Palmetto's Amanda Harvin in the third inning scored Cummings, pushing the Tigers' lead to 2-0.
Palmetto coach Scott O'Neal said he was impressed with his team's defense but would like them to swing the bats better.
"We got to rely on our pitchers and play the game the we should," O'Neal said. "We got to hit the ball a little better. We should be 3-0. We have a good group of girls, and once we get it together, we'll be fine."
The Tigers added another run in the sixth when Ashley Stinton hit a double, scoring Taylor Lewis.
The Falcons are winless, and Sosnoski is surprised.
"We have veterans in skill positions, and usually we are a strong hitting team," Sosnoski said. "Right now, it's surprising that we aren't swinging our bats well. This was a winnable game. Palmetto is good, but we should have beaten them."
The Tigers' Harvin had a solid performance, going 2-for-4 with a triple and an RBI.
"This win feels good," O'Neal said. "These girls aren't use to losing, and when we lose to teams we aren't suppose to, it hurts them."
Saint Stephen's 000 000 0 - 0 1 1
Palmetto 101 001 0 - 3 5 0
WP - Brittany Cummings (1-2). LP - Ashton Whidden (0-2). 2B - Jessica Ashley (Saint Stephen's); Cassey Lewis (Palmetto) . 3B - Harvin (Palmetto) . Team records: Saint Stephen's 0-2, Palmetto 1-2.
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