By Brad Fauber
QUICKSBURG -- Stonewall Jackson's softball team struggled to yet another blowout loss on Friday evening to visiting Shenandoah District foe Stuarts Draft, but Generals first-year head coach Morgan Williams is seeing some positives.
Though the final score of Friday's five-inning game was 20-3, Williams was happy with some of the things she saw from the Generals, which included a five-hit third inning that sent three runs across the plate.
"We're making progress," an upbeat Williams said after the loss. "Each game we're getting a little bit better and doing things that we haven't been doing. We're making progress, slowly but surely. It's going to be a slow process, but we're going to get there.
"I know what they're used to and what they've known in the past, but this is not the past. We're trying not to focus on the past. We're trying to focus on things we can control in the future, and that's what I've been telling them to do."
Stuarts Draft got the offense rolling early against Generals starting pitcher Lindsay Shifflett, as the Cougars sent eight batters to the plate in the top of the first inning and scored four runs on five hits and two Stonewall errors.
Five more runs on six more hits and two more Generals errors in the top of the second inning gave Stuarts Draft a comfy 9-0 lead.
"We've been working on hitting some of the different pitching that we've seen, and we usually struggle with a little bit of the off-speed stuff," Cougars coach Randy Ross said. "I thought we got around really good on her off-speed stuff, and that's what our goal is, to continue to hit all types of pitching."
Shifflett managed to limit the Cougars to just one run on a Lois Carpenter double in the top of the third inning, and the Generals (0-4, 0-2 Shenandoah) responded in the bottom of the frame to put together their best offensive inning of the young season.
Senior Makaela Turner led off the bottom of the third with a bunt single and moved to third on an illegal pitch and a groundout by Emily Ball. Stuarts Draft starting pitcher Rendy Dressler got Kylie Biller to strike out for the inning's second out, but Shifflett (2-for-3) slapped an RBI single to right field to plate Stonewall's first run.
Kaylin Miller and Madison Streett each followed with singles to load the bases, and junior Amber Welsh delivered a two-RBI single to right field to cut the Cougars' lead to 10-3. Streett was thrown out at third on Welsh's hit to end the inning.
"They're making adjustments. They are watching the pitcher, getting their timing down and figuring out what they did in their first at-bat and making the adjustment for their second," Williams said.
Stuarts Draft (3-2, 3-0) put the game out of reach with a 10-run fourth inning that included eight hits and four more Stonewall errors.
Carpenter dealt the big blow in the inning for the Cougars, as she laced a two-RBI home run to left-center. Carpenter, who was batting cleanup for the first time this spring, had a stellar day at the plate, as she went 4-for-4 with a home run, a triple, two doubles and four RBIs.
"She had been batting further down [in the order] because she went through a little time there that she wasn't hitting the ball very well," Ross said. "I told her, 'I put you there [at cleanup] for a reason.
"The cleanup spot was wide open and I think she just filled it."
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