Skyline bats blossom at Sherando

STEPHENS CITY — Skyline softball coach John Ritter juggled his lineup Thursday night, looking for some hits.

He certainly got them as the Hawks pounded Northwestern District foe Sherando 13-1. The game was halted early due to the 10-run lead rule.

“We juggled some things around,” Ritter said. “We moved our number five hitter to second in the lineup; moved the second batter to fifth and our seventh hitter to ninth. We got some good cuts in and that’s what happens when you hit the ball.

The 13 scores represented the most runs by a Hawk team (4-5 overall, 1-1 district) this season. Previously it had scored 10 in a 10-1 victory over crosstown rival Warren County on March 30.

Since then the Hawks, who had lost three straight to good competition, have mustered just one run in the last three games.

“We’ve played against three or four pitchers who are going to play (NCAA) Division I softball,” said Ritter.

The three defeats had come to 4A James Wood (Skyline is a 3A school), two-time state semifinalist Brentsville, and Central, among the best teams in the area. The Colonels and the Falcons shut the Hawks out.

That was not the case at Sherando Park.

Skyline scored three runs in the second, two more in the third and then plated five scores in the fourth inning and three more in what turned out to be the decisive fifth.

The Warriors (5-5, 0-1) provided 10 errors to the Hawks cause, but the visitors also pounded out 12 hits behind the dominating pitching performance by sophomore Tamara Grayson.

Seventh-hitter Alexis Grim went 3-for-3, including an inside-the-park homer and five runs batted in. Sixth-hitter Tori Jo Brown also went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Makaela Dawkins went 2-for-2 with 2 runs scored and an RBI.

“Coach has been working on me with my swing,” said Grim.

“And what did I tell you,” Ritter said with a smile.

“Worry about staying down on the pitch and be more aggressive on my first strike,” Grim said.

But even though the Hawks put the ball in play and moved around aggressively, Grayson was the story on the mound.

“This was an embarrassment,” said Sherando coach Clarence Williams, “to our team and our fans. We have a lot of parents who come out and support us and this was a let down.”

A big reason was Grayson, a sophomore with a giant curve.

“That was my best pitch tonight,” the pitcher said.

She allowed just one unearned run in the bottom of the third, three hits (Sherando’s Tori Seymour was 2-for-2) and struck out seven.

It seemed as if for every error the Warriors made in the field they mentally took the miscues to the plate.

“That’s not to take anything away from Skyline. That’s a good team over there and a good pitcher,” Williams said.

The Hawks scored three runs on three Warrior errors and their own three hits in the second for the 3-0 lead.

They came back in the top of the fourth and got two more runs, two additional hits. Then in the fourth, they batted around for the second time of the night and plated five more on the strength of three hits and five errors.

The last three runs in the fifth came off two hits and one Sherando miscue.

The Hawks left seven baserunners on.

Sherando scored only once — in the third on a hit, walk and fielder’s choice.

“Tamara’s a sophomore so the good thing about her is that we have her for two more years,” Ritter said. “That’s a blessing.”

Earlier in the season Ritter, in his first year, said “We’re no middle-of-the-road team.”

The Hawks have lost to powerful Brentsville twice, Central twice and James Wood.

This was their sxxth straight game on the road.