By Jeff Nations
STEPHENS CITY -- Skyline High School's Carrie Robinson was hurting earlier this softball season.
The junior had constant pain in her lower back, with no clue why it was happening. It didn't matter, though, Robinson was determined to play through it to help the Hawks. But when Robinson came to the realization that by not saying anything, she actually be hurting her team, she fessed up to coach Frank Nelson.
That was less than two weeks ago, and physical therapy to reduce irritation on Robinson's sciatic nerve produced near instant results. Robinson had struggled to pitch with the ailment, but now she's feeling like her old self again. For host Sherando, that was bad news indeed on Friday as Robinson hurled a complete-game, one-hitter as the Hawks rolled to a 10-0 victory in six innings.
"It's nice to see Robinson pitching the way we thought she would pitch," Nelson said. "She had a rough first part of the season, but she's pitched well the last two games."
The breaking point, Robinson said, came one day during class when she could barely walk out of the room. The physical therapy has been a relief for the pain, and playing up to her ability has been a relief to Robinson's mind.
"I'm just glad I can finally help my team," Robinson said after striking out 10 Warriors in the win.
Skyline (10-7, 5-3 Northwestern District) jumped out to a quick lead in the top of the first inning when Jessica Sims laced a bases-loaded single to center field off Sherando pitcher Heidi Brown to drive in two runs.
The Hawks put up two more runs in the second with another two-run single, this time off the bat of Skyline catcher Samantha Santymers.
Brown, dealing with a sore shoulder, pitched just one more inning for Sherando (6-7-1, 4-5 Northwestern) before giving way to reliever Allison Bauer in the top of the fourth. Hannah Ritter greeted Bauer with a single, then advanced two bases on wild pitches before scoring one batter later on Santmyers' bunt single. Corrina Colton drove in another run later in the inning on a sacrifice fly, and Tori Jo Brown scored on another wild pitch to complete the three-run rally.
"I have no doubt that they have some sort of mental advantage over us," Sherando coach Clarence Smith said. "We've struggled against them for a number of years now."
Sherando's Carly Nixon broke up Robinson's no-hit bid with a single to left field to lead off the bottom of the fourth, but Robinson came back to strike out the next three batters.
"We'd heard that she struggled at some point this year, but when we faced her before she mowed us down," Smith said. "We didn't force her to work, and we didn't force their defense to make plays."
The Hawks put together another three-run rally in the sixth. Sims plated two runs with a double to left-center, then scored the third run on a delayed double steal of home.
Sims finished with a 2-for-3 day with four RBIs, two stolen bases and a run scored in the win.
"I've been in a slump lately," said Sims, a freshman. "Our hitting coach, John Ritter, has really been working with me to make sure I can be the hitter I'm capable of being."
Sherando mounted one last rally in the bottom of the sixth when Nixon drew a two-out walk and Jessy Shipman reached on an error, but Robinson closed out the win by inducing Heidi Brown's groundout.
Robinson, Santymers and Hannah Ritter joined Sims with two hits apiece.
"We're starting to play better at the right time," Nelson said.
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org>