VALDOSTA -- Valdosta High softball felt it needed to start the season with a non-region game. Ware County reminded the Lady Wildcats why.
Ware took advantage of six VHS errors and defeated the Lady Wildcats 6-2 Tuesday evening in the season opener for both teams.
"We're young, and we played like it," VHS head coach Peggy Parramore said. "We made some mistakes, and now we've got to correct them."
It was a tale of two games, the first two innings and the last five. Ware scored four runs, all unearned, in the first two innings, grabbing a 4-0 lead, then rode the pitching of sophomore Katherine Trimm to victory.
It started in the first. Valdosta, starting an all-sophomore infield and only two upperclassmen in the field, committed two errors, which gave the Lady Gators two extra outs. Ware took advantage, as three runs crossed the plate.
Another error in the second enabled a fourth run to cross the plate, and VHS found itself in a big hole.
Valdosta had several opportunities to score throughout the game, but were unable to score until late. The Lady Wildcats put eight runners in scoring position, and only two score. Two different VHS rallies ended with outs on the basepaths.
After the rough first two innings, the Wildcat defense and starting pitcher Courtney Ruttinger settled down. Ruttinger, who was charged with just one earned run, allowed five hits in the first two innings, and just four the rest of the way.
Ware extended the lead with a run in the sixth and another one in the seventh.
The Lady Wildcats finally got on the board in the seventh, scoring twice. Whitney Buescher led off the inning with a single, then Samantha Johnson walked. An error moved the runners up to second and third. The next two batters were retired. Then Jordan Thomas hit the ball back to the pitcher, Trimm, who tried to throw Buescher out at third. Instead, she threw the ball into left field, and Buescher and Johnson both scored.
"There were some positives. And there were negatives," Parramore said. "They're going to get better."
One positive was Thomas, Valdosta's freshman catcher. Thomas reached base all three at-bats, on a single, a double and an error. She also held on to the ball in a hard collision with a Ware runner at home. Buescher was another positive, with two hits and a run.
For Ware, Trimm held the Lady 'Cats to just five hits, and only those late runs.
Ware had never defeated Valdosta in its four years as a region rival, before moving down to AAAA this year.
Valdosta will head to Waycross Thursday, and try to avenge its loss to Ware. The Lady Wildcats start their region season next Tuesday against Colquitt County.