Back and forth they went, West Holmes taking the early lead, only to see Wooster battle back. Again, West Holmes forged a lead, only to see the Generals rally to tie. Finally, in the bottom of the fifth inning, two of the Lady Knights’ stars did what people expect them to do, and when Olivia Ferguson slammed the door shut with a strong final inning effort on the mound, West Holmes could celebrate.
The Lady Knights earned a well-deserved 6-5 victory over a young but scrappy Wooster crew when the two teams knocked heads at West Holmes High School on Wednesday, April 18.
For West Holmes it was a large game, not just because it was an Ohio Cardinal Conference showdown game against a rival, but also because they were looking to get back on track after dropping a pair of one-run games to a New Philadelphia Quakers team they felt they should have split with at the very least.
“It’s something we can build on after a week where we played a couple of games that we maybe should have won,” West Holmes head coach Jaime Chenevey said. “But after scoring a ton of runs in blowout games, it is good for us to experience some close, tough games, and to come back and win a one-run game after dropping two is good for us to experience. We were able to make some adjustments, thanks to Mother Nature and three straight days of practice.”
West Holmes jumped on top 2-0 in the first, and the Generals responded with three in the third, only to see the Lady Knights come right back and tie it in the bottom of the inning. West Holmes then took a two-run lead in the bottom of the fourth, and Wooster rallied right back with a pair to tie it. However, the Lady Knights took the lead for good in the bottom of the fifth when Maddie Woods singled, stole second and raced home on a Morgan Allen single.
The game proved to be every bit as exciting as the games last season.
“We knew they were going to hit the ball, and last year we played them in two one-run games, so we expected a battle,” Chenevey said. “It was nice to see us play consistent softball, and especially to see us come up big in the last inning with some strong defense and pitching.”
Ferguson relieved starter Morganne Balder in the top of the sixth when Balder got into some trouble. With runners aboard, Ferguson needed a big out and thought she got it on a 2-2 pitch that just missed. She never wavered, coming right back and throwing a fastball strike to record the out and get out of the inning.
Ferguson then came out and threw superbly in the final frame to record the save.
After having to work through an injury earlier this year, Ferguson is finally back to throwing, and Chenevey is excited to have more options on the mound.
“For years we have been a pitch by committee, and it is nice to have the options,” Chenevey said. “Right now we are getting into the tougher part of our schedule, so this is a great opportunity for us to learn how to go out and compete in every aspect.”
Watching his young team rebound from falling behind a couple of times was one encouraging part of the game for Wooster.
“I was very pleased with the way we battled,” Wooster coach Scott Dunlap said. “As the year has progressed, we have become more stingy on defense, and kids are making plays, and that is giving our pitchers more confidence.”
Wooster got some incredible defense up the middle from second baseman Macee Harpster and shortstop Anna Zerrer, and left fielder Michaela Folks made a couple of outstanding plays to rob the Lady Knights of hits.
“Our kids walked out to the outfield after the game with their heads held high, and they should have because they played a heck of a game,” Dunlap said. “We had timely hitting, we left very few runners on base and we got strong performances across the board. I am not happy with the outcome, but I am thrilled by our effort tonight.”