Photos: Sean Hoxworth and Dave Mast
The battle of Holmes County’s softball teams was a tale of two teams heading in opposite directions at this point in the season.
The West Holmes Lady Knights are on an absolute tear on offense, scoring 161 runs in fashioning a 9-2 record. Meanwhile, Hiland has been hitting but has struggled on defense as it searches for its first win of the season.
The tale of two teams played out pretty much as the script is going as West Holmes piled up big numbers in scorching Hiland 29-2 in the Thursday, April 12 meeting at West Holmes High School.
“Hitting is one of those things that is so mental, and when you feel good about it, it is easy to hit the ball, “West Holmes head coach Jaime Chenevey said. “And when you don’t feel good about it, it isn’t easy to hit the ball. Obviously we are feeling pretty good about it right now.”
Chenevey said her team has truly worked hard on the offensive part of their game, and it has paid off. In addition, it isn’t just the top of the order that can wreak havoc. It is one through nine and then some.
“We do have a pretty solid lineup top to bottom, and we have a couple of kids pushing them, and that is beneficial,” Chenevey said. “That’s a fun thing to have.”
West Holmes took an early lead in the first inning by hitting around the order and posting nine runs. Then they simply continued to mount runs in a torrid fashion.
The big onslaught came in the fourth inning when West Holmes’ Natalie Martin munched a two-run dinger to left, Maddie Woods lined a laser over the wall in left center for a three-run shot and Callie Cline hammered a high-arching shot over the wall in left.
While West Holmes’ bats took center stage, there were other side stories that factored in.
The first was Morganne Balder’s presence on the mound for West Holmes. The savvy senior hurler again took care of business, limiting Hiland to four hits, two of them coming off the bat of Hiland catcher Brittany McVicker. Hiland head coach Jason Hazen said McVicker was the one Lady Hawk who looked prepared to get after it on the night.
The second was Hiland’s defense, or lack thereof. Hiland committed a whopping 13 errors in the game and consistently kept West Holmes innings alive by not getting outs when they should have.
For Hazen, that was especially frustrating because his team was coming off of its best performance of the year in an 8-5 loss to a good Indian Valley team.
“If you don’t believe in yourself and you think you’re going to go out and commit 13 errors, you’re going to commit 13 errors, which is what we had,” Hazen said. “Last night (Indian Valley), I wouldn’t say we were a whole different team. It was a whole 180-percent-different team. There was nothing we did last night that we did tonight.”
Hazen said the game went along as though his team was disinterested, and when things went from bad to worse, it only snowballed as everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
“I told the girls that with the effort we gave today, beating an 8U team would be pretty hard,” Hazen said of his team. “They need to do a little self-thinking about where they want to be and mentally prepare themselves to play every day. We can teach them everything we know about softball, but if they don’t have the confidence and the mental stability to know they can do the job, they’ll never do it, and that is in anything. Right now I’d say we are Jekyll and Hyde, but I don’t even know if we’re Jekyll.”
The Lady Knights hitting column was filled with all kinds of goodies. Natalie Martin was 5-for-5 with a home run, two doubles and three RBI. Maddie Woods was 4-for-5 with a home run, two doubles and six RBI. Jazz Knapp was 4-for-5, and Callie Cline was 2-for-4 with a home run, a double and five RBI. Taryn Grassbaugh had a pair of hits with three RBI, Morgan Allen drove in a pair with a hit, Jessie Keen was 2-for-4 with an RBI and Lexi Martin added two hits. Maddie Mellot had a hit and an RBI, her varsity firsts, while Liberty Arnold added a hit.
Balder was solid again on the mound, throwing a three-hitter with six strike-outs, her season high. She also picked up her sixth win on the year.