By Brad Fauber
FRONT ROYAL -- Skyline's softball game against John Champe came at just the right time for the struggling Hawks.
Skyline, which suffered two disappointing losses at the hands of Northwestern District leader Millbrook last week, ended its three-game losing streak with a 20-4 thumping of John Champe in non-district action on Monday. The game ended in the fifth inning via the mercy rule.
The Hawks tallied 21 hits against the Knights, including seven extra-base hits. Ten of Skyline's 11 players recorded at least one base hit in the victory.
"It was good. We played like a team for once," said Hawks sophomore shortstop Makaela Dawkins, who went 3-for-4 with two doubles and four RBIs. "That's our biggest thing, is that we haven't been playing as a team. Tonight everyone kept their heads up and was focused and ready to play.
"We just kind of told [each other] to put the Millbrook games behind us and focus on whatever is coming ahead."
Skyline (6-5) built a 3-0 lead quickly in the bottom of the first inning. Junior Michala Craig (3-for-4, double, triple) led off the frame with a double, moved to third on a bunt single by senior Hannah Ritter and then stole home following a throw to second base on Ritter's own steal attempt. Ritter came in to score on an RBI single by Dawkins, and Becca Thomas -- serving as the courtesy runner for catcher Samantha Santymers -- later scored on a wild pitch to give the Hawks a three-run lead.
The Hawks added three more runs in the second inning, as Dawkins delivered a two-run double with two outs and then later came around to score on a Knights throwing error.
John Champe (2-3) scored two runs on a wild pitch and a passed ball in the top of the third off Hawks starting pitcher Carrie Robinson to cut the deficit to four, but Skyline blew the game open with an 11-run third inning. The Hawks tallied 10 hits in the third inning alone and sent 15 batters to the plate.
"I think we waited for the pitches and weren't swinging at bad pitches. I think we waited for the one strike that coach has been talking about, then drove the other one," said Robinson, who finished the game 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Freshmen Jessica Sims and Kima Robinson started the rally with a walk and a bunt single, respectively, and Carrie Robinson's line drive to right field was mishandled, which cleared the bases and allowed Carrie Robinson to come all the way around and score.
Ritter (3-for-4, three runs) tripled one batter later and scored on a double by Dawkins, and three more runs came home when Tori Jo Brown's single to right was misplayed, allowing the ball to roll to the fence. A two-run triple by Kima Robinson (2-for-3, two runs), an RBI single by Carrie Robinson and a run-scoring triple by Craig gave Skyline a comfortable 17-2 lead.
"I think we needed to stop the slide, because we're not used to losing three games [in a row]. It's good to play a team -- not to say anything bad -- but play a team like this so you can get some runs, you can do some things, give the kids a little confidence," Hawks coach Frank Nelson said.
John Champe scored two more runs in the fourth inning, as both runs came home on Keke Brown's infield single, the Knights' only hit of the evening.
Though Carrie Robinson limited John Champe to just that lone hit and struck out 11 batters in her five innings of work, she allowed 11 walks and was consistently working with runners on base.
"I need to focus and not get down, let my defense have my back and just throw in there," Carrie Robinson said.
Skyline added three more runs in the fourth inning, as Tori Jo Brown (2-for-4, two RBIs), Corinna Colton (2-for-3, two runs) and Carrie Robinson each had RBIs in the frame.
"Everybody stepped up tonight," Nelson said. "I told the girls the other night, hard times determine your character. A couple times last week when we were down we starting pointing and yipping at each other. You can't do that. But a win's a win and we'll see what happens on Thursday [against Handley]."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD