By Tommy Keeler Jr. - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Taylor Henry watched as teammates Sarah Beamer and Sabrie Neeb hit back-to-back home runs, but the Skyline senior wasn't thinking about joining the club as she stepped up to the plate in the fourth inning.
"When I got to the plate, Sabrie [Neeb] said, 'Your turn,'" Henry said. "I was like that's OK, I just wanted to hit it real hard."
Henry did hit it hard and completed the trifecta of home runs, which helped lead the Hawks to a 6-1 Northwestern District softball victory over Sherando on Tuesday night.
Trailing 1-0 in the fourth inning, Valerie Hindley led off with a double that hit the top of the fence and bounced back in play. Beamer followed with a blast over the left-field fence off Sherando pitcher Courtney Reid to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead.
"I had two strikes on me, so I just wanted to put the ball in play," Beamer said.
Neeb followed with her homer, which also went sailing over the left-field fence.
"The three of us are pretty competitive, so we're always looking to out-do one another," Neeb said of the three homers.
The Hawks (2-2, 2-0 Northwestern) had been struggling with their offense so far this season, but found it in the fourth inning. Many of Skyline's hitters were getting behind early in the count in the first three innings, but made an adjustment the second time through the lineup.
"We were definitely due," Neeb said. "We got off to a slow start tonight. I think we just had to adjust to the slower pitching. Our district has slower pitchers than some of the other teams in our region that we've played. We just had to make the adjustment."
Sherando coach Clarence Smith said he takes the blame for the fourth inning, as he was the one calling the pitches.
"When Sabrie was up I called for a fastball inside, and she's a fastball hitter," Smith said. "[Reid] was just doing what I told her to do. I called for fastballs inside, against fastball hitters and they made us pay for it."
After Henry's home run, Allison Funk followed with a double that just hit the top of fence and bounced back in play. An RBI single by Lauren Moore scored Funk for a 5-1 Skyline lead.
Sherando (3-4, 0-3 Northwestern) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on an RBI single by Kennedy Rothemich. Beamer finished with 10 strikeouts in picking up the win and allowed only two hits.
Despite the loss, Smith said he was pleased with how his young squad did. Sherando lost a lot from last year's district championship team, and is off to an 0-3 start in the district this year.
"Skyline has a great team and we were able to play with them," Smith said. "We're excited about the rest of the season. You play everybody in the district three times this year. We just have to come ready to play every game."
Henry led the Hawks with two hits and a walk, while Beamer also had two hits.
Skyline is considered by many to be one of the favorites in the district this season, but the players said they're trying to just take things one game at a time.
"We have to play Sherando two more times, and we know James Wood is going to be tough," Beamer said. "We know we can't take anyone for granted."