By Tommy Keeler Jr.
STEPHENS CITY -- Sherando pitcher Courtney Reid looked at catcher Haley Miles and gave her a message with the Warriors game on the line against James Wood.
"I said I'm coming at you, as in, if the ball comes to me I'm coming to you," Reid said after Sherando's 4-0 Northwestern District softball win on Monday.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh and the bases loaded, Reid and Miles delivered on the next pitch. James Wood's Whitney Dick hit a grounder right back to Reid who threw to Miles for the force at home. Miles then threw to Sherando first baseman for the game-ending double play.
Reid said it didn't matter who the ball came to, she knew her defense would come through.
"That's a great way to end the inning and the game," Reid said. "My defense knew what to do if the ball was coming to them so we were going to execute it either way.
"I knew either way we were going to come out on top - come out with a win."
Reid's defense played strong all game, committing no errors, which helped keep the Colonels offense off the base paths for most of the game.
James Wood's Kierstyn Peacoe also looked sharp, especially early in the game. Sherando managed only an infield single by Carly Nixon through the first three innings.
The Warriors finally struck in the top of the fourth. Sherando's leadoff hitter Michaela Carper switched to a left-handed stance and tried to bunt, but after following behind 0-2 switched back to the right side of the plate and drilled a pitch into right field.
"[Carper] did an excellent job of keeping her hands back on that changeup," Sherando coach Clarence Smith said. "And she just shot it where the pitch was made, and she hits a clean single into right field."
The ball then took a bounce and got away from the right fielder, allowing Carper to head to third. The throw to third was off the mark allowing Carper to come in and score the game's first run.
"It was a big hit for me. I don't usually get the long bombs. I'm just a leadoff hitter," Carper said. "I got to third and [Smith] was saying 'watch the ball, watch the ball', and it was just rolling around on the field. So I had to go home."
The Warriors (10-6, 7-2 Northwestern) added three more in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Smith used Ashley Saville as a pinch-hitter and she hit a shot into right field, which went for a triple.
"I'm very proud of her," Smith said of Saville. "It's tough when you don't have a lot of opportunities, and then you're asked to step into a situation where the game is on the line and she came through in a huge way."
Carper then laid down a bunt, which was fielded by Peacoe, but another error allowed Saville to score and give the Warriors a 2-0 lead.
Sara Stickman followed with a single, and Katie Seymour 's RBI single scored Carper. A sacrifice fly by Reid gave the Warriors a 4-0 lead.
That would be more than enough for Reid, who struck out four and allowed only two hits in the first six innings. With one out in the top of the seventh, James Wood's Rachel Largent, McKenzie Garrett and Charlotte Viands had consecutive singles to load the bases, before Reid and Miles would get out of the jam.
"She hit her locations," Smith said of Reid. "We had a game plan going into the game, how we were going to pitch certain girls, and we made those pitches. She pitched very well today."
James Wood coach Ted McDaniel said he was happy with the effort his team gave.
"I told the girls you have nothing to be ashamed of," McDaniel said. "The ball just didn't bounce our way tonight. Things are coming where it's going to bounce our way and we're going to win some games."
The win gave the Warriors a season sweep over the Colonels (6-9, 5-4 Northwestern), and keeps them just a game behind Skyline for first place in the district.
"I think were definitely starting to realize what we can do," Reid said. "And we just have to keep realizing how good we are. We just have to come out and play like we know how to."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org