Mother Nature apparently is a fan of spring sports after all.
High school baseball and softball teams could have started playing games on Saturday, March 29, but an early spring snow storm postponed all scheduled games. Teams however looking to open the season Monday, March 31, were welcomed with sunny skies and temperatures in the low to mid 60s.
Madison County teams were finally able to get out and play games against other schools that actually count on the regular season record.
West Jefferson 11,
A lot will be written this year about the pitching of the Lady Roughriders and its importance to the team reaching its lofty goals, but in their season opener it was their offensive prowess that was on full display.
West Jefferson (1-0) erupted for 11 runs in the home half of the third inning in an 11-1 non-league victory over visiting Urbana.
“It felt good, real good,” coach Jim Stevens said. “We’ve known all through the preseason and scrimmages that we’re going to be a pretty good hitting ball club. We’ve seen that time in and time out in the cage. We don’t hit off a machine, that’s not what we do. (Assistant coach) Rachel (McAnnich) throws some batting practice, we use live pitching and our girls see live pitching all the time, I think that helped.
“We went through the first couple innings and we hit a couple hard ones, and then I told the girls it was time to open it up and they did that. They hit the ball real well.”
The biggest blast in the big inning was the grand slam home run by Andrea Fulton. That turned a 3-0 lead into a commanding 7-0 advantage.
“Andrea smashed that one, that’s all you can say about that,” Stevens said. “We’ve always known her to be a good contact hitter and we told her going into the season we were going to work on her strength. To try and make her a power contact hitter, and she’s coming along.”
On the subject of pitching, starter Annie Haenszel was dominant inside the circle limiting the opposition to just two hits and one lone fifth-inning run.
“Annie threw the ball real well,” the coach said. “We’re going to put a lot on her shoulders this year. She’s going to be strong. I think we’re going to be OK.”
Bishop Hartley 7,
Jonathan Alder 6
The Pioneers (0-1) rallied to score four runs in the final three innings of their non-league tilt at Hartley Monday, March 31, but came up just short in a 7-6 defeat.
Mady Watson went the complete seven innings and surrendered eight hits. As a team the Pioneers had five hits of their own in the loss.
The Red Raiders (1-0) banged out 11 hits and scored 15 runs as they held on for a non-league road win at Grove City Christian.
Lauren Miller picked up the victory inside the pitching circle.
Aliyah Hiram had three hits with a double and two RBI, Rachel Long had two doubles and two RBI, Alli Farley and Alicia Baldwin had two hits apiece, while Taylor Melillo collected a pair of RBI.
The visiting Red Raiders (1-0) got a strong pitching debut from senior hurler Brok Bennett, who didn’t play baseball last year.
He pitched six innings, allowed three hits, three earned runs and struck out 10 batters in the win.
“Brok did a very good job out there today,” first-year London coach Jason Barber. “He threw well, hit his spots. Roger Pack was behind the plate and called a good game. Those two really worked well together.”
Bryce Swartz came into pitch a scoreless seventh inning in the win.
At the plate, London was led by Bowling Green State University-bound standout Zac Carey who was 4 for 4 with a pair of doubles and scored three runs. Pack was 2 of 4 with two doubles, Justin Long and Bennett both scored two runs.
“It was a good win for us because our guys did a lot of the little things we’ve been working on,” Barber said. “If we continue to do the things like hitting behind runners, taking extra bases and things like that, we have a chance to get a lot better.”
West Jefferson 7,
Roughriders hard throwing lefty Caleb Ferguson was on top of his game in tossing an impressive two-hit shutout Monday, March 31 against visiting Urbana.