James Wood trips Sherando, moves on to regional softball tournament
WINCHESTER – – James Wood High School pitcher Lauren King struggled just a touch early and late but each time she told herself about the team that was playing behind her in the Colonels’ 4-1 victory over Sherando High Friday.
The Colonels (18-3) claimed the Group 4A Conference 21 West softball tournament semifinal at Ridge Field and thus will face defending state champion Woodgrove. The game will come on the road, Monday at the home of the Wolverines.
Win or lose, the Colonels are guaranteed a spot in the state playoffs by entering Monday’s championship game. Both teams from the conference will move to the states.
“She threw so well today, I told her ‘congratulations’ because she faced a number of great athletes in that Sherando lineup and should be proud of herself today,” said James Wood coach Todd Baker.
The Warriors brought a four-game winning streak into the game when it averaged 13 runs per contest.
King, a junior, went the full seven innings in the semifinal matchup. The right-hander allowed just one run, while she struck out seven. She gave up only two hits and walked five.
The Warriors, who finished their season 14-8, scored the first run of the game in their half of the first and even loaded the bases after King walked three in the top of the seventh, but she and her team expertly handled the pressure.
“I just know that whatever I do, whatever happens, I have my team behind me. That’s all I think about,” said King.
Indeed, after Sherando led 1-0, King gave up just one more hit. After giving up a walk in the second, the pitcher threw mostly strikes the rest of the way.
“That’s what she does,” said Baker, “she stays calm and lets her team play.”
James Wood committed no errors, while Sherando committed three.
Sherando pitcher River Baird, a sophomore, went almost all the way, relinquishing her role to a reliever in the final inning. Baird allowed seven hits, gave up three earned runs and walked three. She struck out one and hit one batter.
“River Baird is going to be – – she already is — a good pitcher and she’s only going to get better. Right now, she throws outs, but eventually she’ll throw more strikeouts,” said Sherando coach Clarence Smith. “She’ll be a strikeout pitcher. Today she was on target and no matter how many errors we had or how many runners we left on base (six), Lauren King was tough on the other side, give her credit.”
Sherando scored first when leadoff hitter Blake Conner walked and moved to second on a wild pitch. A tap back to the pitcher got Warrior No. 2-hitter Tori Seymour out, but moved Conner to third. She came in on a base hit by Korenn Paige.
James Wood came back to score a run in its half of the second. Several drops of rain started as Colonel Rebecca Boone singled to left. With two outs, JW’s Haley Kaiser laced a double into the centerfield gap, scoring Boone. The score was 1 apiece.
The rain stopped.
The Warriors added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth. Lani Spielman started off the frame with a single to right. She moved to second on a Sherando error. Then Spielman took third on a Camryn Rizzari single.
Afton Sykes singled home Spielman and then, a batter later, ninth hitter Haley Kaiser sacrificed home Rizzari for the 3-1 lead.
“Haley is somebody we’ve been looking for. She’s been coming around and it doesn’t surprise me what she did today,” said Baker.
Kaiser, a sophomore who hit ninth in the lineup, had the double and two RBI.
“I’m more of a singles hitter than doubles, really I just try to get contact,” said Kaiser, who competes in E-modified stock-car racing in her down time. “I was just trying to do my part.”
The Colonels final run came in the bottom of the sixth. Sykes got on via error, moved around the bases and came home on a single by Alyssa Brown.
Meanwhile, King threw three shutout innings behind mostly strikeouts the rest of the way.
“She did a good job,” said Smith. “Hopefully River will continue progressing and we can talk more about her this time next year.”
Brown was 2-for-3 for Sherando with a run scored and an RBI.
Paige and Baird were the only Warriors who base hit safely against King’s offerings.
The Frederick County rivalry introduced a new award after the game. Entitled The Canteen Trophy, the object is a canteen adorned with colors from James Wood and Sherando. It goes to the team that won the last game.
At the end of the year, both coaches from each school will pick a most valuable player in the series, which the Warriors won 2-1 this year.
Contact Jim Laise at email@example.com
Colonels 4, Warriors 1
Conference 21W semifinals
Score by innings
Sherando 100 000 0-1 2 3
James Wood 010 201 X-4 7 0
JW-King and Anderson
Sherando-Baird, Strosnider (7) and Marshall