West Holmes Softball

Big bookend wins over Tygers makes for smooth sailing for Lady Knights

Morgan Allen and the Lady Knights had plenty to smile about versus Senior

The West Holmes Lady Knights managed to post carbon copy 18-0 victories over Mansfield Senior on back-to-back nights Tuesday and Wednesday, April 25-26.

While West Holmes understood that it was a heavy favorite to win both contests, head coach Jaime Chenevey said there was more to these games than simply trying to post wins.

“We talked about putting ourselves in mental situations throughout these two games,” Chenevey said. “Last week we left a lot of runners on base and it cost us a couple of games. We left 28 runners on base in three games. Then last night (the first 18-0 win) we left 11 more on base, so we talked about driving in runs and coming through with runners in scoring position. I was pleased that we were able to make some adjustments and hit the ball harder tonight (in the second of the 18-0 wins). Even in games like this there are ways we can learn and get better.”

In the initial version of the massive pair of wins, Olivia Ferguson posted the win on the mound for the Lady Knights, with Maddie Woods pitching the final inning. West Holmes built a 10-0 lead before posting eight runs in the final inning of play. The two pitchers combined to toss a two-hit shut-out, striking out six in the process.

At the plate, Samantha Rogers cranked out three RBI on two hits, Callie Cline collected a pair of hits with an RBI and Natalie Martin drove in two runs while Becca Vales drove in one.

In game two of the carbon copy wins, West Holmes took advantage of Senior’s pitchers’ inability to find the strike zone. After eventual winning pitcher Morganne Balder cruised through the first inning, six of the first seven Lady Knights reached base courtesy of the free pass, with Cline the only West Holmes batter to get on otherwise, parlaying a bunt into a single. The big blow in the inning was Vales’ crushing 3-run triple to left, and after nine-hitter Savannah Rogers laid down a perfectly executed bunt down the third base line and eventually raced around to score, all nine of the batters in the West Holmes line-up had reach base and scored. Two outs later, with the bases empty, West Holmes got one more run when Morgan Allen followed up two more walks with laser to center for the 10th run of the inning.

Balder crushed through the Tygers in the second inning and her teammates saw to it that this game too would be put out of reach by posting six more runs in the bottom of the inning.

Three walks and a fielder’s choice loaded the bases, and Cline quickly uncleared them by whacking a double to the fence in center for a 3-run double. Natalie Martin followed that with a double of her own and Jazz Knapp ripped a run-scoring single. Martin would deliver another RBI single in the fourth, but it was Balder who would benefit from a pair of defensive double plays turned by her defense, and keep Senior on zero. Woods would again come on to hurl the final inning, striking out three straight after giving up a lead-off hit.

Balder went four solid innings, striking out three and walking a pair while giving up three hits.

“We had an error-free game in the second of the two games with seniors, and that is maybe only the second time we have done that this season, and it comes at a great time as we head into a huge game Friday night against Mansfield Madison that has great meaning to the league and to us.”

As for the pitching, Chenevey said the mound aces were on top of their game too, cutting way down on free passes and helping their team each game by maintaining a pace that allowed the defense to remain alert and ready.

The pair of wins advances West Holmes to a healthy 12-7 on the season, but Chenevey said record aside, her youthful Lady Knights continue to play in learning mode.

“As positive of a season as this has been, we are still continuing to figure things out as we go,” Chenevey said. “We still are working on figuring out how to beat good teams in tight games, and we had a huge week last week against Clear Fork and Madison that we let get away. Hopefully we can figure out how to win those kinds of games, because that is going to become more and more important. We have to be able to give a maximum effort every night out regardless of who we play.”

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