By Ben Brooks - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Sherando High School's softball team spent the first five innings Tuesday afternoon knocking on the door. The Warriors finally kicked it in by scoring six times over the last two innings to pull away for a 7-2 Northwestern District victory over host Millbrook.
"I have to give the girls credit," said Warriors coach Garry Sawyer, whose team overcame multiple baserunning blunders and a failure to push runners across early on. "They didn't get down and kept battling."
After stranding seven runners through the first five innings and finding themselves down 2-1, the Warriors (6-3, 2-0) broke through in the sixth. With two outs, No. 9 hitter Erica Doyle tripled to right off the glove of Millbrook's Corrie Breshears. Not only did the hit bring in Jessica Seymour with the tying run, but Doyle broke the deadlock when the throw from the outfield trickled past catcher Kaitlyn Hendershot.
"After I saw it get past her I just tried to run as fast as I could to score," said Doyle, who drove in Sherando's first run of the game in the second inning when she was hit by an Amber Wells pitch with the bases loaded. "I really thought we'd break through eventually. We just kept our heads up."
If Doyle's big hit put the Warriors over the edge, Seymour provided the icing on the cake in the seventh. Following Lexi Meeker's RBI single that made it 4-2, Seymour stepped up to the plate and lofted an opposite-field, bases-clearing triple to left.
"I was just trying to show them what we were made of," said Seymour, who combined with Doyle and Gabrielle Lopp (the last three batters in the order) to produce five hits and five RBIs. "At first we were leaving people on and making some mistakes on the bases, but then we started getting some hits and playing our game."
Sherando's nine-hit attack was more than enough to back the pitching of Amanda Lutz. The junior limited the Pioneers to just two hits and faced the minimum in four of seven innings. On a brisk and drizzly afternoon, she struck out six, walked five, and hit a batter. The only damage came in the third on Alexis LeBiche's two-run single that give Millbrook a 2-1 lead that lasted until the sixth.
At times, Millbrook (4-4, 1-1) was brilliant in the field. Stephanie Curry made a diving catch in center to rob Lacie Taylor of a hit in the third. In the fourth, LeBiche stretched out to snag Lutz's liner that saved at least one run. Finally, in the fifth, third baseman Madisen Burrow made an over-the-shoulder catch. However, there were times when the Pioneers failed to make routine plays, and it cost them.
"Aside from a few miscues, our defense was really good today," Millbrook coach Michelle Long said. "But you just can't allow a team the caliber of Sherando to keep loading the bases and get away with it. They're one of the best teams in the district. We allowed way too many baserunners. And it wasn't just Amber [Wells] giving up hits. It was us blowing some coverages, especially on bunts. They exposed our weaknesses."