SISSONVILLE, W.Va. - Herbert Hoover softball Coach Missy Smith said Monday night that Huskies sophomore pitcher Allison Rager can glean motivation from the most obscure sources.
Rager's emotional boost Monday came in the form of a two-run, game-tying single from Sissonville's Abi Jordan. After allowing nine of the first 16 Sissonville batters to reach base, Rager settled immediately after Jordan's hit, and kept the hosts at bay the rest of the way in order for top-ranked Hoover (8-1) to escape with a 3-2 win in eight innings.
"I just tried to work the corners and worked with whatever the umpire was giving us," Rager said after she retired 16 of the final 19 Sissonville (8-5) hitters and finished with six strikeouts.
Once the game was extended to extra innings, Hoover wasted little time in manufacturing a run. Ashleigh Tignor led off with a double, and pinch-runner Halie Fields moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Zoey Carte. Senior Amber Oaks brought home the eventual winning run with a ground ball to second that was too deep to allow Sissonville freshman second baseman Regan Johnson to catch Fields at home.
Rager hit Taylor Legg with a pitch with two outs in the bottom of the eighth on a somewhat controversial call. Rager said after the game she believed that Legg turned into the 1-2 pitch. She admitted that the call threw off her concentration when facing Jordan again, who immediately followed Legg.
The Sissonville freshman walked before Rager was able to elicit a comebacker to the circle from Andrea Harmon to end the game.
"Different things will motivate her. Even things that you don't even know, like a borderline call that doesn't go her way or if (the opposing team's players) cheer exceptionally loud. Weird things that you wouldn't think would affect her, like anything can really set her off," Smith said.
"When she's mad look out, 'cause she throws some smoke."
She also got the job done at the plate for the Huskies. Thanks to a pair of first-inning Sissonville errors, Rager came to the plate in position to bring home a pair of runs with her single off Indians senior starter Bekah Baldwin.
The Indians, who made their first appearance in the West Virginia Sportswriters Class AA Softball Poll on Monday at No. 10, had their chances in the opening innings. However, a combination of Rager strikeouts and impressive defense led to Sissonville stranding six runners before the fourth inning.