The West Holmes Lady Knights had the joy of success and the agony of the hideous in experiencing the highs and lows of high school softball on a cold Saturday, April 28 at River View High School.
The split-team double-header saw the Lady Knights devour Ontario 12-4 in the opener and then experience a jaw-dropping inning from River View that saw the Black Bears blow open a tight game in a 12-2 loss.
The opening game of the twin bill began on a high note and just kept getting better and better for the Lady Knights.
With Olivia Ferguson towing the rubber for West Holmes, her teammates gave her a nice cushion in the top of the first inning. Maddie Woods drove the second pitch she saw for a double and scampered home on Morgan Allen’s RBI single. Allen worked her way over to third on an overthrow and a passed ball, and Callie Cline walked and stole second, setting the table for Natalie Martin’s to-run base hit and a 3-0 Lady Knights lead.
Ferguson went out and faced three batters in the first inning, an inning that included a double play that started in center field with a nice play from Cline, and West Holmes came back in and went to work again at the plate.
Liberty Arnold walked, and Jessie Keen singled to bring Woods back to the plate. She grounded into a force out at third, and Allen walked, loading the bases. Cline was hit by a pitch to force in a run, Martin’s fielder’s choice produced another and Jazz Knapp made it 7-0 when she lashed a single to left.
Ferguson allowed Ontario to get on the board in the bottom of the second on a pair of doubles. Another Ontario score in the third made it 7-2, and the Lady Knights’ bats went silent throughout the middle innings, which allowed Ontario to sneak back into the game when they chased Ferguson in the fifth with two more runs to make it 7-4, an error and two more doubles plating a pair. Reliever Morganne Balder squashed the rally by getting the final two outs of the inning, and the Ontario push seemed to ignite the West Holmes offense.
Woods reached on an error to start the sixth, advanced to third and then scored on another Allen RBI single. Cline stroked a double to put runners on second and third, and Natalie Martin drew a walk to load the bases. Knapp again came through, this time rifling a two-run single to left center to make it 10-4. An error in right off a fly ball from Lexi Martin plated the final two runs of a strong five-run inning.
Balder had little problem disposing of Ontario in the sixth and seventh innings to secure the win.
Allen banged out three hits, driving in a pair, while Knapp knocked in four runs on two hits and Natalie Martin drove in three runs on a pair of hits. Keen also delivered two hits in an impressive offensive attack.
Ferguson picked up the win, going 4 and one-third innings, allowing seven hits and four runs, three of those earned. Balder was brilliant in relief, tossing the final 2 and two-thirds innings to collect the save. She allowed just a single hit and walked one.
The follow-up game with River View would not have such a happy ending for the Lady Knights.
“Game two of the day started well but had an ugly ending,” West Holmes coach Jaime Chenevey said. “We committed two errors in the bottom of the fourth that allowed River View to get on a roll, and we just did not stop them.”
Facing a daunting River View club, West Holmes got on top in the top of the second inning. Natalie Martin singled and advanced on a Knapp ground out. Lexi Martin singled, stole second and scored on a Jessica Yabroff single. Peyton Wertz and Bailey Hettinger’s singles tied the game in the bottom of the second inning.
West Holmes went right back up in the third inning when Woods walked, stole second, advanced to third on Cline’s single and scored on an error.
Through three innings Lexi Martin had held a tough Black Bears team in check. The fourth inning would not be so kind.
A pair of errors began the inning, and 11 runs later the Lady Knights were down by 10 runs.
Opening an inning with two errors is a bit akin to inviting a vampire into your home: No good can come of it. Those two errors definitely came back to bite the Lady Knights.
Mikensi Ehlinger doubled home the tying run, and Hettinger’s single put River up 3-2. A fielder’s choice plated another run, and Claire Warschauer’s single scored another. An infield single loaded the bases, and Gracie Dunlap singled home a pair. Back-to-back singles from Alyssa Thomas and Werntz were followed by a two-run single from Bella Heddleson. Hettinger added a two-run double, and Kelsie Williamson added a run-scoring single to give the Black Bears a gigantic lead.
Needing a run to stay alive, Cline stroked a two-out double, but that was as far as she could go when Natalie Martin lined out to second to end the game.
Cline hammered out a pair of hits for the Lady Knights, who collected just five hits off of starter and winner Alyssa Thomas.
Thomas twirled four nice innings to shut down a dangerous West Holmes offense.
The Lady Knights move to 13-7 on the season and stand at 6-2 in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, where they trail only undefeated Mt. Vernon.