By Dave Mast
After getting thumped around by Claymont in a double-header three days prior, the Hiland Lady Hawks were looking for a little redemption against Kidron Central Christian Comets Tuesday, March 29 in Kidron.
They found it, and in the process got their rookie head coach Ellie Beam her first win in style, pounding out a 12-1 five-inning win.
The Lady Hawks jumped on Central starter Jo Spiker early, plating four runs in the top of the first inning and never looking back.
“This feels awesome, and the girls did a great job today,” Beam said. “Saturday was really tough. We saw some really good pitching and we played like it was our first game of the year. Tonight, those early runs gave us some momentum and it gave us a little confidence too.”
With one out, Lindsey Yoder reached via an error, and after a pop out for out number two, Hiland put together five straight hits to get four runs. That string included Megan Kandel’s RBI single, an Ashley Weaver single, then three straight run-producing hits from Hannah Gerber, Erin Weaver and Amber Yoder.
Hiland pitcher Brittany Wengerd struck out three in the bottom if the inning, and Hiland came right back to plate another run in the second when Wengerd singled and scored on Schrock’s RBI groundout. Wengerd struck out three more in the second and escaped danger, stranding a pair of Comets runners.
Hiland then continued to produce, scoring three more times in the third. Ashley Yoder started things with a single, Brittany Troyer reached via an error, before Wengerd’s rope up the middle hit Yoder for the first out. Lindsey Yoder’s bunt single produced a run, and Kandel stroked a single to plate another before Hiland scored its third on a passed ball. Before the inning was over, Hiland had a second runner hit with a batted ball, this time Kandel getting nicked on the toe as she sped to third on a hit by Gerber.
Central finally got to Wengerd in the third, when Janelle Bergerstock singled, moved to second on a passed ball and scored on a shot to left off the bat of junior first baseman Elizabeth Brecksbill.
That would be the extent of the scoring for the Comets but not for the Lady Hawks. Erin Weaver reached on an error to begin the fourth, as did Wengerd, the error plating Weaver. Lindsey Yoder’s single and Schrock’s fielder’s choice plated the second run to make it 10-1.
The fifth inning saw Hiland reach the 10-run lead it needed to halt the game after five innings. Gerber singled, and Erin Weaver spanked a double to score her. She would come home on a Troyer groundout, and Wengerd would finish things off in the bottom of the inning, striking out the final three Comets in order.
Wengerd went the distance, allowing three hits and three walks while striking out a career-high 11 hitters.
“It was fun to turn things around,” said Wengerd after the win. “Our defense played a lot better than we did Saturday at Claymont, and I struggled on the mound. They picked me up all game and made plays, and getting the early lead today helped all of us kind of calm down and just play as a team like we are capable of playing.”
“It was good to see us really do a better job of putting the bat on the ball,” said Beam of her team’s effort at the plate, where they hammered out 18 hits. “It’s important to get that first win. We’re on our way, and we are tacking W’s on the wall.”
“We had a lot of close calls and plays where we just didn’t follow through and complete the play,” Central’s rookie head coach Curt Howells said. “We looked a little nervous with this being our first game, and we never were able to shake the jitters.”
For the Comets, Emma Carr reached base twice, via a base hit and a walk, while Burgerstock and Brecksbill collected one hit apiece.
Having gotten their first game in, Central now looks to cut down on the fielding miscues and work on improving its game one day at a time.
“We hope to continue to grow as a team and learn the game, and have fun doing it,” Howells said. “We’ve got a lot of inexperienced girls on this team. We have six returners from last year but we also have six players who didn’t play last year. That shows you how much inexperience and youth we have.”