West Holmes Softball

Ferguson goes all ‘Houdini’ to help Lady Knights sweep Arrows in 5-4 win

Olivia Ferguson pulled off some sweet magic to help Lady Knights get a huge win

Olivia Ferguson hasn’t been in too many white-knuckle moments as a youthful pitcher on the West Holmes Lady Knights softball team.

So when she found herself in a gigantic jam with her team leading by one run in the top of the seventh inning in the Lady Knights game versus Ashland Wednesday, April 5, she knew she had to dig deep for her team.

After inducing a routine pop out for the first out, Ferguson got the next hitter to foul out to catcher Natalie Martin, before staring down the next batter. With a 2-2 count, Ferguson threw a pitch to the outer half of the plate and got a routine ground-out to Becca Vales at short to secure a 5-4 victory to draw West Holmes’s record even at 3-3 on the season.

It was definitely a grand escape of which Houdini himself would have been proud.

“Those pop-outs were big, and we finally finished a game strong,” said West Holmes coach Jaime Chenevey. “I thought Olivia really did a nice job of keeping her composure and our defense helped get her out of a couple of trouble spots tonight. It was nice to finally win a game on defense and pitching.”

West Holmes fell behind 2-0 in the first inning but battled back to tie things at 2-2 tie through three innings. Jazz Knapp doubled and scampered home on Vales’ double, and she then scored on a perfectly executed bunt single by Samantha Rogers.

But Ashland got to Ferguson again for a run to take a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning. But in the bottom of the frame, the Lady Knights responded in a big way to retake the lead, which Chenevey said told her a lot about the kind of fight her team has.

Martin and Vales singled to start the inning, and after Martin was forced out at third, Samantha Rogers grounded out to the pitcher as both runners advanced. Now with two outs, Savannah Rogers dropped down a brilliant bunt to tie the game, and she quickly took second base before Maddie Woods delivered a single back up the middle to spot the Lady Knights to a 5-3 edge.

“The Rogers girls are so fast, and I tell them all the time that if they are going to play back then use it,” Chenevey said. “She did a nice job of getting the bunt down for a hit. And when you’re up there in Maddie’s position, you can’t clench up, you just have to be loose and relaxed, and she did a nice job of taking it right back up the middle.”

West Holmes threatened again in the sixth when Maris Hoffee and Savannah Rogers singled, but Woods’ grounder went right to second base to end the threat.

Then in the seventh, Ashland’s top three in the batting order produced consecutive hits to draw within 5-4, before Ferguson pulled off her magic act to escape the threat and give her team a victory.

“This is a huge sweep for us with Ashland, because they have been in the top four in the league now for a longtime, so to get two wins against them is big for us.”

For the Lady Knights, the game has been all about the big bats for much of the season. On this night, they didn’t hit up to par, but the gloves came to life at the right time.

“We talked about defense being more of a focal point tonight,” Chenevey said. “In the last three games we have had 13 or 14 errors, and that is a killer. Luckily last night our bats were able to come through, but Saturday they didn’t and we lost two ball games because of our defense. We did a much better job tonight of limiting our errors. Our goal was to have three or less, and we had two, so I am definitely pleased. Plus, we had some big stands there at the end of the game in which they got multiple runners on and we kept them from scoring.”

Ferguson went the distance, and although she allowed 11 hits, she didn’t walk a batter while striking out three. She also got a big double play to end the fourth inning when Vales gobbled up a grounder, stepped on second and fired to first to complete the double play.

Vales and Savannah Rogers both collected a pair of hits, with Vales scoring a pair of runs and Woods driving in two.

West Holmes even its overall record, but more importantly the two wins over Ashland improved the Lady Knights to 3-1 in league play.

“We are starting to come around a little bit,” Chenevey said. “Getting these two wins is really important for us, and I think we are going to be very fun to watch as the season progresses and we continue to improve.”

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