Colonels get payback win over Wildcats
FRONT ROYAL – James Wood junior infielder Courteney Harper said the Colonels were eager for some payback against Warren County on Monday night. Wildcats softball coach Justin Stock noticed it, too.
The Colonels, who fell to the Wildcats at home back on March 23, got redemption in the rematch at Warren County High School in a big way with an 11-0 blowout non-conference victory that ended in five innings due to the mercy rule.
“We knew that they were a really good hitting team,” said Stock, whose team beat James Wood 6-2 in their first meeting. “I think that they had a little chip on their shoulder because I think they were expecting this at their place. To be honest I was kind of surprised how well we played against them the first time.”
Monday’s win marked the fifth straight for James Wood (6-2) since its loss to the Wildcats (3-2) and was the fourth in that span to end in five innings. The Colonels, who have outscored opponents 58-4 during the win streak, needed only eight hits to score their 11 runs against Warren County pitching, but four of those went for extra bases.
“I think that we kind of came out flat that (first meeting with Warren County) and we were ready to get our payback this time. I think that was a big part of it,” said Harper, who was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs from the Colonels’ leadoff spot. “And we’ve been working really hard in practice since then because I think that really was an eye opener for us. We thought we were gonna have that win easily and we didn’t, and we realized that really quick. So it was good to come out and win this game.”
James Wood provided sophomore right-hander Lauren King all the offensive support she would need with a run in the top of the first inning, which came when Alyssa Brown stole home on a throw to first base following King’s swinging strikeout on a pitch in the dirt.
The Colonels added another run in the second off Wildcats freshman starter Elizabeth Keener when Harper hit a fly ball that was misread off the bat by a Warren County outfielder before dropping in for a hit, and the ball was further misplayed, allowing a run to score.
Wildcats right fielder Macie Clerkley made a great running catch down the line to end the top of the second to help Warren County escape further damage as James Wood left the bases loaded, but the Colonels blew the game open with a five-run third inning.
A hit-by-pitch, a walk and a single by Lani Spielman loaded the bases to start the third, and Keener dealt back-to-back walks to Rebecca Boone and Camryn Rizzari to give the Colonels a 4-0 lead.
Keener allowed seven earned runs on five hits, six walks and a strikeout in 2.1 innings.
“It’s still a learning process with a freshman trying to figure out what she can do and not do and what pitches we have,” Stock said. “She threw very well against Mason the other night. She threw well against (James Wood) the first time. I think they just timed her a little bit better and we were a little erratic.”
An RBI fielder’s choice by Taylor Woolsey followed the walks, and Keener’s night in the circle ended after Harper lined a two-run double down the left-field line to put the Colonels up 7-0. Ten batters came to the plate for James Wood in the third.
“Everybody was grooving in the dugout,” Harper said. “It was pretty nice.”
James Wood added four more runs in the fifth inning off Wildcats reliever Anneslee Cockrell (2.2 innings pitched, three hits, two walks), as RBI triples by Lindsey Anderson (2-for-3, double, triple, two RBIs) and Haley Kaiser and two Warren County errors helped the Colonels to an 11-0 lead.
In the circle, King went all five innings for James Wood while allowing three hits, three walks and a hit-by-pitch against eight strikeouts in the shutout. Colonels head coach Todd Baker said King pitched only one inning against the Wildcats in their first meeting.
“She’s always had the great fastball. With her it’s working location and her breaking pitches, and her breaking pitches are really starting to come on,” Baker said. “We’re still working hard on the changeup. She has one, didn’t throw it much tonight but didn’t really need to. If we can get all of her pitches working she’s definitely a dominant pitcher.”
Amalia Abrego-Hernandez had two of Warren County’s three hits – one on a bunt – while Morgan Coons reached on an infield single in the first inning. The Wildcats had a baserunner in each inning but stranded seven over five frames.
“King is very good and I knew she’d get a fair share of strikeouts but we just didn’t do a very good job of putting the ball in play and making them work,” Stock said.
Warren County returns to action tonight with a 6 p.m. home game against Conference 28 foe William Monroe.
Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or email@example.com