SIERRA STROSNIDER

Sierra Strosnider

STEPHENS CITY – Sierra Strosnider did a little bit of everything for Sherando on Wednesday.

The junior hit two home runs and made a key defensive play to help the Warriors pull out an 11-9 non-district softball win over Loudoun Valley. The game was originally started on April 12 but was suspended due to rain in the first inning. Both coaches met and decided to start Wednesday’s game over from the beginning instead of picking it up where they had left off.

Sherando coach Clarence Smith said he was a little worried about how his team would play after winning a tough Class 4 Northwestern District game over Liberty on Tuesday.

“I’m really proud of the girls,” Smith said. “We came off a pretty emotional win (Tuesday) night. It was pretty intense. The score doesn’t necessarily show that, it was 6-0, but it was a pretty intense game. We were locked in and focused, and sometimes it’s easy to have a letdown the next day.”

The Vikings scored a run in the top of the first. Natalie Elias and Olivia Badura started the game with back-to-back singles off of Sherando starting pitcher Lauren Smith. With one out, a groundout RBI by Kendall Owens gave Loudoun Valley a 1-0 advantage.

The Warriors took the lead in the bottom of the first. Blake Conner drew a lead-off walk from Loudoun Valley starting pitcher Owens. Strosnider followed with a two-run homer for a 2-1 advantage.

“We had runners on in both situations and I just wanted to try my best to get a base hit,” Strosnider said of her two home runs. “I was thinking base hit each time and luckily it went over. I tried to generate some runs to help my team out.”

Sherando (12-6) added two more runs in the bottom of the third. Conner singled and went to third on a two-base error. Strosnider’s groundout RBI gave the Warriors a 3-1 edge. With two outs, Lauren Smith and Isabel Hall had back-to-back singles. A wild pitch moved them to second and third. Veronika Lord’s RBI infield single gave Sherando a 4-1 lead.

The Vikings (6-7) cut the lead to 4-2 in the top of the fourth. With one out, Sam Buckland reached second base on a single and an error. Buckland moved to third on a groundout by Brooke Jenkins and scored on an RBI double by Erin Fenelly.

The Warriors extended the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Once again it was Conner and Strosnider who got things started. Conner drew a walk and Strosnider reached on a bunt single. Brooke Moses was hit by a pitch from Owens to load the bases with no outs.

Sherando took advantage of its opportunity. Lauren Smith hit a two-run single to take a 6-2 lead. With one out, Lord’s two-run single gave the Warriors an 8-2 advantage.

“Me and Blake have played together for a long time,” Strosnider said of her and Conner. “We’re cousins, we’ve played together forever. We’re a pretty good 1-2 punch because both of us are lefthanders. We can slap, drag bunt and we can also hit for power. I think we just make a great combination at the top.”

The Vikings closed the gap in the top of the sixth against Sherando relief pitcher Jazmyn Long. With one out, Loudoun Valley relief pitcher Susan Hickman drew a walk and Fenelly and Jess Licciardone had back-to-back singles to load the bases. A groundout RBI by Elias cut the deficit to 8-3.

Badura’s infield single RBI cut the lead to 8-4. Two more runs scored on a Sherando error to cut the lead to 8-6. Strosnider, a shortstop, made a diving running catch on a fly ball down the third base line to end the inning.

“Honestly, I go after everything I can get and just try to make the plays I can to help the team out,” Strosnider said. “The pitcher’s working hard in the circle and I want to bail her out. I was sprinting as hard as I could and when I got there I was just like, ‘I’m going to go for it.’”

Strosnider came up big again in the bottom of the sixth. Long drew a one-out walk off of Hickman. Conner followed with a double and Strosnider drilled a pitch over the fence in right field for an 11-6 lead.

The Vikings scored three more runs in the top of the seventh, led by a two-run single by Fenelly, but stranded a runner on first to end the game.

The Warriors had 12 hits and had eight different batters reach base. Clarence Smith said the team received some bad news before the game as they found out senior second baseman Ashton Clark injured her hand in Tuesday’s game and would not be available to play. So he moved Faith Salyers to second base and said he was happy with how she played.

“She’s had zero reps (at second) this season,” Clarence Smith said of Salyers. “She had a nice diving catch early in the game, which I think helped set the tempo and kind of got the jitters off of her a little bit. She ended up making a couple of nice plays and helping out our defense.”

The Vikings were led offensively by Badura and Fenelly with three hits each. Strosnider finished with three hits and five RBIs. Lord had two hits and three RBIs and Lauren Smith had two hits and two RBIs, while Conner had two hits and scored four runs for Sherando.

The Warriors are tied for first in the Class 4 Northwestern District with Fauquier. They play at rival James Wood on Monday.

Strosnider said it’s fun being on the team this season.

“I think this is one of the best teams we’ve had here,” she said. “If we’re on our game no one can beat us. I think we’re unstoppable – I really do.”

– Contact Tommy Keeler Jr. at tkeeler@nvdaily.com