Even the rain can’t stop the Lady Knights softball team right now. Actually it seems as though nothing can shake or rattle the confidence of the West Holmes team who secured the sectional championship Saturday, May 17 at River View High School.
The Lady Knights scored five first inning runs and held on for their third tournament win of 2014 with a 5-2 victory over Indian Valley. The third seed in the tournament, the Lady Knights beat the fourth (River View), the first (John Glenn) and the second seed (Indian Valley) to bring home the first sectional championship since 2001 for the program.
“We have always had the potential to do this, and it has gotten to the point where we finally feel good about what we are doing. Right now the sky is the limit for us,” said Coach Jaime Martin after her team sported gigantic smiles hustling off the field after the final out.
The final out was a sparkling play made by right field Makayla Patterson who raced to her right into the gap and leaped to catch the ball that gave the Lady Knights the title.
Martin won a sectional championship as the Lady Knights soccer coach in 2004, but thanks to the big first inning, her team was able to hand her a sectional title in the sport that is her specialty. Softball.
The Lady Braves struck first however, scoring a run in the top of the first, but West Holmes answered with a bang.
Leading off the first was Cassie Thomas who yanked a ball to the wall and strolled in to third with yet another triple for the speedster. Alys Shoemaker then walked, setting up a grounder to short hit by Hannah Miller that the Lady Braves shortstop nearly threw into the first base dugout. The error easily scored Thomas from third, but Shoemaker was also able to score on the throwing error as well.
Stormi Morris was hit by a pitch and then flex hitter Morgan Wagers dribbled into a fielder’s choice that she beat the throw to first on a double play attempt from Indian Valley.
With runners on first and third Haley Martin struck out, but catcher Riley Wires dropped the third strike and Martin hustled to first base causing another error when Wires skipped it pass the first basemen and down the right field foul line. Samantha Rogers, who was running for the pitcher Morris, scored the third run for the Lady Knights on the second error of the inning by the Lady Braves.
Enter Bri Galbraith to the batter’s box.
Galbraith, known as “Bri G.”, leads the Lady Knights this year in walks, but led West Holmes with three hits on the day including a first inning double she roped to the left center gap. Her two-run double in the first scored Savannah Rogers, who was running for Wagers and Martin who reached on the dropped third strike.
“It was nice to finally get some hits and get the win after that big first inning,” said the senior second basemen Galbraith.
“She has just been steady,” said Martin about Galbraith. “She never does anything overly flashy, but works the count to exactly the pitch she is looking for and hits the strike she wants to. I’m happy for her because she has worked so hard.”
Cassidy Mohler and Patterson struck out to end the rally in the first for West Holmes, but it was 5-1 Lady Knights after one frame at it was more than enough for Morris.
Baili Fox got a double for the Lady Braves in the top of the second, but Morris stranded her getting two fly ball outs to Patterson in right to end the inning.
And then like it has been doing all spring so far, the rains came. For nearly 25 minutes the Lady Knights danced, sang songs, beat bats on the dugout, played hot potato with a softball, ate some “Indian Corn” and watched the River View staff do a great job of getting the infield dried up so they could go out and win a sectional title.
When played resume neither team threatened to score until the top of the fifth when Indian Valley got a lead-off single from Kelsey Kochman, Brea Rennard then grounded into a fielder’s choice and Katie Shamel singled on a blooper to right setting up a first and third situation with only one out.
The Lady Knights got some help though to get out of the tight spot.
Morris was able to pick of Kochman at third base when she received the throw back from her catcher Miller and then turned and fired a pea to Shoemaker who applied the tag to Kochman for the second out of the inning.
The bang-bang play was questioned by Indian Valley’s head coach Aaron Kochman, but even after consulting with the home plate umpire, the call stood.
Morris then got Jamie Beamer to pop out to Galbraith at second to end the threat.
In the top of the sixth the Lady Braves got their first to hitter on base when Jayme Hykes singled and Fox legged out an infield hit. But Morris got the next three hitters out with a strikeout of Stef Risher, a fielder’s choice force play at second and Wires popped out to Patterson to end the inning with no damage done.
“We got some lead runners out in those innings and stayed composed defensively. We didn’t let anything bother us today,” said Martin. “Their run in the first inning didn’t bother us and the rain delay didn’t bother us. Some calls that didn’t go our way didn’t bother us either.”
The Lady Knights loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth, but were unable to push across a insurance run.
“I would have liked to see us put up a few more runs on the board later on to get some cushion.” said Martin about not being able to score after the first inning that saw the Knights plate all five of their runs.
In the bottom of the seventh Kochman popped straight back to Morris on the first pitch and Rennard grounded to third on the first pitch to her. Two pitches, two outs and one to go. Surprisingly the Lady Braves were not working the count looking for base runners.
“They were frustrated the entire game and pressing very hard,” said Martin. “They were trying really hard to make the big play instead of going a base at a time. That fed right in to what we needed to have happen to close out the game.”
Morris got Shamel to fly out to Patterson to end the game and the Lady Knights had struck again instead of the lightning striking this time.
The win put the Lady Knights (16-13) in the one-game District where they will face Maysville who beat Cambridge on May 17 by a score of 7-2. That game will be May 20 at River View School at 5pm.
Thomas was 3-for-4 on the day to go with Galbraith’s three hits and Hannah Miller had two singles and an RBI for West Holmes. Morris picked up her fourth straight win striking out two, walking one and giving up nine hits.
Kochman took the loss for the Lady Braves, striking out four and giving up eight hits.