Offense carries Warriors to win over Pioneers

STEPHENS CITY — Sherando’s bats came to life on Thursday night.

The Warriors pounded out 13 hits, including three inside-the-park home runs, en route to a 16-6 Northwestern District softball victory over Millbrook. The game was halted in the sixth due to the mercy rule.

“We came out slow at first, but then we got back in it,” Sherando’s Katie Manson said. “The intensity came up, our bats came into play. Three home runs in one game — impressive, what else can you do?”

Manson had the first of three home runs in the bottom of the fourth with the Warriors clinging to a 4-2 lead.

The senior drilled a pitch from Millbrook’s Sarah Clark to the center-field fence and turned it into a home run.

“I saw it. I was like I got to make it home, I got to make it,” Manson said. “I have a cold, so I could barely breathe rounding second. I was holding my breath.”

The Pioneers cut the lead to 5-3 in the top of the fourth. Kellie Jenkins had a one-out single. She went to third on an error, and eventually scored on a delayed double-steal.

Sherando (6-4) took control of the game with eight runs in the bottom of the fourth, including two inside-the-park home runs.

Tori Seymour led off with a single, and scored on a two-run, inside-the-park homer by Madison Clark. Clark hit a shot to close to the same spot where Manson hit hers, all the way to the center-field fence.

“We were able to hit some balls hard and squared up pretty well,” Sherando coach Clarence Smith said. “Fortunately, we found some alleys and got it over a couple girls’ heads and able to put some points in the board. Any time you’re playing on a 300-foot fence — in the defense of some of these outfielders — it’s a lonely feeling when you’re running all the way to the fence out here.”

Sherando seniors Carly Nixon and Heidi Brown each doubled, and Manson had an RBI single as the Warriors continued to stretch the lead in the fourth. Marissa Webb had an RBI single, and Seymour finished the inning off with another two-run, inside-the-park homer.

The Pioneers wouldn’t go away quietly. They kept the game alive in the top of the fifth with three runs. Clark had a two-run triple to cut the lead to 13-5, and later scored on a wild pitch.

Sherando answered with two runs in the bottom of the fifth with only one hit. In the bottom of the sixth, Hannah Lockhart ended the game with an RBI single.

Lockhart was effective in the circle for the Warriors in picking up the win. The senior, who transferred this year from Millbrook, struck out seven and yielded only five hits.

“Hannah is one of the most fierce competitors I’ve had in my 10 years here,” Smith said. “These aren’t the ideal conditions to throw in … blustery weather, tough to get a grip on the ball. Obviously, she didn’t have her ‘A’ stuff tonight, but she’s not a girl that looks to the sidelines for help. She’s out there, she gets frustrated with herself, but she’s ready for the next pitch and in her mind she’s ready for the next pitch.”

Clark led the Pioneers with two hits and three RBIs. Manson had three hits and two RBIs to lead the Warriors.

Smith said that Sherando has had some tough losses this season to really good pitchers, but he still feels good about what the team can do the rest of the season.

“If we’re going to get where we need to be, we obviously need to beat good pitchers,” Smith said. “Any time you get your bats going, scoring 16 runs — that helps. That’s certainly a step in the right direction.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com