By Brad Fauber
FRONT ROYAL -- Fresh off its first victory of the season on Wednesday against previously undefeated Loudoun County, James Wood looked to continue that momentum in Thursday's Northwestern District softball matchup with Skyline.
Colonels junior Kierstyn Peacoe made sure that momentum remained firmly with James Wood, as the pitcher allowed just three runs over seven innings while delivering a pair of home runs at the plate in the Colonels' 14-3 romping of the defending district champion Hawks.
James Wood banged out 19 hits in the win, and scored at least one run in each inning of action. Thursday's loss was a rude wake-up call for Skyline, which typically found itself on the other end of such games last season.
"They did tonight to us what we did to people last year," Hawks coach Frank Nelson said. "We went into the game thinking we were just going to throw the gloves out on the field and we were going to beat people. The girls have a tendency sometimes to think that they can just turn the switch on, and I hope this is a valuable lesson for them tonight."
James Wood (2-3, 1-1 Northwestern) was able to take advantage of a Skyline team that was without four-year starting pitcher Sarah Beamer, who is currently attending an orientation at the University of Virginia-Wise. Beamer, who recently signed with U.Va.-Wise, plans to play softball at the school next season.
Sophomore Carrie Robinson was handed the ball in Beamer's absence for the first time this season, and Robinson's 2013 pitching debut was one to forget.
Of the Colonels' 19 hits, six went for extra bases, and Robinson was charged with 13 of the 14 runs scored by James Wood.
"She did the best she can, and she'll get better and she'll learn from this," Nelson said. "It wasn't her, it was just everybody tonight."
James Wood got on the board early with a run in the top of the first inning on a single by senior Charlotte Viands (3-for-5, one RBI, two runs scored) that came with two outs, and Peacoe (2-for-3, two home runs, three RBIs, two walks) did some two-out damage of her own with the first of her two home runs in the top of the second inning.
Peacoe, who batted leadoff for the Colonels, jumped on the first pitch she saw from Robinson, sending the ball over the left-field fence for a two-run homer to give the Colonels a 3-0 lead.
"I saw my perfect pitch. I was just like, 'That's mine.' I swung and made good contact and it went," Peacoe said. "I wasn't looking for a home run -- I never look for home runs. All I look for is nice solid hits, and home runs come."
James Wood tacked on two more runs in the third before Skyline (3-3, 1-1) responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning on RBI hits from freshman Tori Jo Brown and Samantha Santmyers to cut the deficit to 5-2.
But Peacoe's bat struck again in the fourth, as the junior sent a 2-0 offering from Robinson over the left-field fence again for a solo shot that stretched the lead to 6-2.
The Hawks scraped out another run in the bottom of the fourth, but Peacoe was able to shut down Skyline's offense over the final three innings. Peacoe allowed seven hits and two walks while striking out nine batters.
James Wood added two runs in the fifth, a run in the sixth and five runs in the seventh to steadily pull away.
"We've been like Jekyll and Hyde. I felt like we have a good team, we just weren't playing as well as we should have, especially the first three games," Colonels coach Ted McDaniel said. "But we're getting more practice on the field now, and I think that has made a difference. We're actually hitting the ball and making the routine plays that we didn't make early on."
Skyline will look to rebound on Saturday during a tournament at Central High School. Unfortunately for the Hawks, they will still be without Beamer. Nelson said Robinson will once again be called upon to pitch both games for Skyline on Saturday.
"We missed [Beamer's] bat in the lineup, but I told the girls, I said, 'You can't get into that frame of mind that this is a one-person team, that we can't win without her being here,'" Nelson said. "You can't allow that to happen, and with so many young girls that we have I can see that."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or email@example.com