Errors prove costly for Sherando in softball loss

STEPHENS CITY – Sherando has struggled with its defense this season, and on Thursday it cost them a key Conference 21 game.

Sherando made four errors, which helped give James Wood a 6-5 softball victory.

“Our defense is the achilles’ heel right now and it showed up in the game,” Sherando coach Clarence Smith said.

The Colonels (9-0, 2-0 Conference 21 West) took the lead in the top of the third. Courteney Harper singled and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Emma Van Horn. Lindsey Anderson followed with an RBI double off Sherando starting pitcher River Baird.

James Wood’s Lauren King followed with another RBI double for a 2-0 lead. After a single by Rebecca Boone, another run scored on an error.

Lani Spielman’s RBI double extended the lead to 4-0.

“I thought we made some adjustments at the plate and started scoring some runs,” James Wood coach Todd Baker said. “They did a great job of rotating pitchers, changing speeds and it worked — almost.”

Sherando’s Lauren Smith relieved Baird in the fourth inning, and was able to slow down James Wood over the next couple innings.

That gave Sherando’s offense a chance to come alive.

In the bottom of the fourth, Sherando’s Korenn Paige singled off James Wood starting pitcher King. Baird drew a walk, and freshman Blake Conner followed with a two-run double to cut the lead to 4-2.

“She’s been excellent,” Clarence Smith said of Conner. “She’s red hot. Another three hits tonight. She’s squaring the ball up nicely.”

In the bottom of the fifth the Warriors took the lead. Sherando freshman Sierra Strosnider drew a walk off King, and Tori Seymour followed with a two-run homer to tie the game at 4-4.

“She’s a home run waiting to happen every swing,” Clarence Smith said of Seymour. “She generates elite level bat speed. …Anything she does with her bat is never really surprising. We don’t take it for granted because it’s fun to watch. But we always know that we have that weapon in the bag to pull out. And the thing is we have power up and down our lineup, so we feel like we’re always within striking distance.”

Paige followed with a single and Baird drew another walk. Conner then hit an RBI single to give the Warriors a 5-4 lead.

Baker then brought in Spielman, and she was able to get out of the inning without allowing any more runs.

“We brought Lani in in a tough spot. I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Baker said. “Both of our pitchers are top quality pitchers and I expect that every time we go out and play.”

The Colonels battled back in the top of the sixth. Spielman drew a walk from Lauren Smith to start the inning. Harper singled and Van Horn drew a walk to load the bases.

An error on a ball hit by Anderson scored two runs to give James Wood a 6-5 edge.

“Every time we made a step forward we took two steps back, because our defense isn’t making plays right now,” Clarence Smith said.

Baker said he was proud of how his players kept battling after Sherando took the lead.

“We could very easily of folded there and took a one or two run loss, but these kids don’t give up — ever,” Baker said. “They’ve been in games like this before and they know how to win them now.”

James Wood was led by Harper with three hits. Baker said it was pretty much the type of game he expected.

“It was just your typical James Wood-Sherando softball game,” Baker said. “Two great teams playing each other and battling it out. I’m sure the next game we play at Wood will be the exact same way.”

Conner led the Warriors (9-5, 1-1 Conference 21 West) with three hits.

The loss counts in the Conference 21 West standings, and Clarence Smith said that the team just needs to bounce back.

“We’re behind the eight-ball a little bit and we understand that,” Clarence Smith said. “…We understand the road (to regionals) is probably going to go through James Wood or Woodgrove again. We’ve just got to be up to the challenge.”

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