Prep softball: Big second inning lifts St. Albans
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- St. Albans' retooled softball team sent 15 batters to the plate in a fateful second inning against visiting Spring Valley on Wednesday.
The Timberwolves didn't manage to send 15 batters to the plate in the entire game, as St. Albans senior pitcher Ali Haynes picked up her second win of the season in throwing a three-inning no-hitter that resulted in a 13-0 Red Dragons win.
Haynes went 2-for-3 with a two-run double as part of a lineup that hit for a slugging percentage of .846 against losing pitcher Brooke Phillips.
Haynes took special notice, however, of the efforts made by the less experienced players in the win.
"Everyone's moved around. I mean Haili, Alyssa and Madi are kind of in positions where they ended last year, but it's still a new thing for them and I think they're doing really good at it," Haynes said, referring to junior first baseman Haili McCown, sophomore third baseman Alyssa Bonham and junior shortstop Madi Marshall.
Marshall moved to short this season to fill the vacancy left by all-stater Rachel Hickman, who now starts as a freshman outfielder at Randolph College. Bonham, who missed much of the second half of the 2012 season with an injury, moved from second base to third to fill the spot opened up by Marshall's move.
"We have a couple of things to clean up on, but I think that comes with any team," Haynes said.
Haynes threw what became an 11-run second inning for the Red Dragons into high gear with a one-out double to center field that likely would have cleared the fence had Wednesday's winds not been so prevalent.
She came around to score two batters later, when senior catcher Mariah Caudill cleared the bases with a two-run triple that gave her six RBI in two games this season.
Whitney Jones added a run-scoring double in the inning and freshman second baseman Maddie Chandler piled on with a two-run single before Phillips could get out of the inning.
While the St. Albans (2-0) bats came alive during the team's second time through its batting order, it was the team's defense that made perhaps a bigger impression.
Haynes scrambled and dove head-first to nab a first-inning pop-up by Timberwolves (1-3) third baseman Jade Spurlock, and Brooke Jackson's third-inning drive to the left-center field gap was impressively tracked down by Dragons center fielder Breanna Pauley for what amounted to another harmless out.
"She had to run so far just to get to that ball," Haynes said. "That was a great catch. After she made that, I have full confidence in our defense."
Spring Valley Coach Alison Webb said her team has remained consistently inconsistent early in the season.
"We haven't put together a game when we've had good pitching, good hitting and good fielding," Webb said. "We didn't hit well today, and we let (Haynes) do what she wanted. Until we get mean at the plate and go up there to attack, it's not going to get any better."
St. Albans Coach Greg Garber, who picked up his 498th career victory in the rout, said he thinks he has the right personnel for another successful season. The Red Dragons have not had a losing season since 1999.
"I'm pleased early on. Our goal's to improve every game, and we have really high expectations around here, and I think that's why we've been so successful," Garber said. "If we want to win another state championship, the young people have to make contributions. Today, I'm pleased with the new people."
Caudill, who like Haynes is starting for her fourth and final season, said there is an adjustment to be made for players stepping into new roles.
"The younger girls have taken real well to coach's style, which is tough because I know it's a lot different in middle school," Caudill said. "I think we did well today."
McCown was 2-for-2 with a two-run triple which got the Red Dragons on the board in the first inning and gave Haynes all the run support she needed.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT