New West Holmes softball skipper Steve Frank knew he had a solid core of players returning from last year’s solid season, and he got to see some of that showcased in the early going when the Lady Knights played a home-and-away against Ohio Cardinal Conference foe Lexington March 26-27.
West Holmes came away the victor in both contests, although each win was a nail-biter that either team could have won down the stretch.
Maddie Woods toed the rubber and went the distance in the opening win, a win that came courtesy of a monster final inning for the Lady Knights.
In the road victory on Tuesday, March 26, West Holmes took an early 1-0 lead with two outs on singles from Jazz Knapp and Callie Cline and a Lady Lex error.
Woods cruised through two perfect innings, but West Holmes struggled to get the offense going, and Lexington finally broke through for a pair of runs in the third inning to take a 2-1 lead on an error, a single and a two-run double. Lex built the lead to 3-1 in the fourth inning on two singles, and West Holmes crept back to within one at 3-2 in the top of the fifth when Woods singled, stole second and scampered home on Cline’s RBI single.
Woods got through the fifth, and the Lady Knights went back to work in the top of the sixth. Maddie Mellott doubled to start the frame and moved to third on a fly out. Then with the tying run 60 feet away, Jessie Keen singled her home to knot the score at 3-all.
After Woods popped out, Knapp ripped a run-scoring single to put the Lady Knights ahead, and West Holmes took advantage of two Lexington errors to score both Knapp and Cline for a 6-3 lead.
Woods gave up a harmless single in the sixth, and after West Holmes went quietly in the seventh, Woods took the mound and finished the game easily with a pop out to short, a strikeout and a comebacker.
Knapp recorded three hits while Kline and Steph Large each collected two hits for West Holmes. Woods ended up throwing a complete-game, striking out seven and allowing just the one earned run.
It was another humdinger a day later when the Lady Knights hosted Lexington on Wednesday, March 27 in a back-and-forth contest that saw West Holmes eke out an 11-10 victory that went right down to the wire.
Lexington banged out a pair of runs in the top of the first off of starter and eventual winner Lexi Martin. West Holmes quickly responded with two of their own to tie it 2-all. Woods singled, Knapp was hit by a pitch, Callie Cline then doubled in Woods and Knapp scored on a ground out by Martin.
Lexington regained the lead with a single tally in the second inning, but the Lady Knights had their biggest inning of the game in the bottom, posting a six spot to take an 8-3 lead. A pair of Lexington errors allowed Mellott and Keen to reach base with one out. Woods then launched a double off the left field wall for a run, and Keen and Woods scored when Knapp rifled a rope to right for a single to make it 5-2. Cline then singled, and with two outs Kinsey Patterson delivered a big run-scoring single. Large followed by driving in a pair with a laser to the wall in left for a double.
Lexington inched back to within 8-5 by plating two runs in the top of the third inning, then cut it to 8-6 in the fourth frame. West Holmes got its four-run lead back in the bottom of the fourth, courtesy of a pair of Lexington errors and a hit batter. West Holmes then made it 11-6 with an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth, where Cline doubled to the wall in center and came around to score on a single from Large.
Little did the Lady Knights realize, but that run would loom large because Lexington was about to stage a wild comeback.
With Woods now on in relief, the Lady Lex started chipping away at the Lady Knights’ lead. A walk was followed by five straight Lexington hits, scoring four runs to draw to within 11-10 with runners on first and third with none out.
Needing something special to happen to get out of the jam, West Holmes got it when Lili Mattia smoked a liner to third that was snagged by Knapp, who stepped on the bag to double off the runner there. Now with two outs and a runner on first, Woods was able to work out of further damage and secure the win on a fly out to shortstop, helping the Lady Knights improve to 3-0 on the season.
Cline smacked three of West Holmes’ nine hits including two doubles, two runs and an RBI. Knapp scored three times, driving in a pair with a hit. Woods collected two hits and two runs, and Large stroked a pair of hits and drove in three runs in the victory. Martin earned the win for West Holmes, twirling six innings, allowing 10 hits while striking out five and walking one.