Prep softball: No. 2 Herbert Hoover tops No. 3 Sissonville
Over the past few seasons, sectional rivals Sissonville and Herbert Hoover have been battling each other for softball supremacy.
This season expects to be no different with the Indians currently ranked No. 2 in the Charleston Daily Mail’s statewide softball poll and the Huskies right behind at No. 3.
The two teams met for the first time this season, with Hoover taking the first round in a 6-0 victory Tuesday at Sissonville.
“It’s not a secret, they (Sissonville) are our rival and in our region,” Hoover coach Missy Smith said. “It’s always a battle. Anytime you can beat them, it’s a good win. Both teams are good and you know it’s going to be a dog fight.”
Hoover junior Allison Rager dominated the Indians in the complete-game shutout win, allowing four hits with six strikeouts. At the plate, Rager was a triple away from the cycle, collecting three hits, including a three-run homer.
“She looks great right now,” Smith said. “She is doing her job like she is supposed to in the circle and in the box.”
“She is very gracious and the girls play well behind her. We have hit more home runs this year as a team, not only Allison. They are really fun to watch right now.”
Both Rager and Sissonville starting pitcher Taylor Casto were sharp. Neither allowed a run throughout the first four innings and the game remained scoreless in the fifth. The Huskies broke through there off an Indian error with two outs. With Rager on third and Kati Angle at second, Hoover first baseman Ashleigh Tignor hit an in-between line drive that short-hopped past Sissonville second baseman Raegan Johnson, allowing both Rager and Angle to score.
“I’ll take any run I can get,” Smith said. “You kind of had that feeling throughout the game that whoever was lucky enough to break through first would take the game, and luckily that was us.”
With the Huskies still leading 2-0 in the sixth, Hoover scored its third run of the game on a two-out wild pitch. Rager then helped her cause with a towering three-run homer for a 6-0 lead, and she did the rest on the mound.
Rager knew it was out of the park as soon as she hit it.
“It felt really good,” Rager said. “I didn’t expect a pitch to hit on a 1-2 count. I knew it right off the bat. We have a lot of good hitters in the lineup.”
Rager knows she will see Sissonville down the road, but is always happy to get a win over the Indians.
“It is really nice to get a win, especially against Sissonville,” Rager said. “They are our conference and regional team. It is really big to get a win against them any time we can. We have been battling over the years ever since Little League and coach-pitch.”
Sissonville coach Niki Gross was disappointed in the loss.
“Altogether, it is frustrating as a coach to know the talent we have and to play the way we did tonight,” Gross said. “Hoover came out hungry to play and we didn’t come out the way I thought we would. We didn’t show it tonight.”
Gross and the Indians are having to get used to playing without one of their key contributors, starting shortstop and lead-off hitter Karli Pinkerton, to a Grade 4 ankle sprain suffered last week in a blowout win against Clay County.
“We are trying to get the girls adjusted,” Gross said. “We have changed the lineup and fielding around. We have had to put some other girls in there to fill those positions. We just need to step up.”
Gross is holding out hope that her standout sophomore can return before the end of the season.
“She is casted right now,” Gross said. “It’s going to be another three to four weeks. We are hoping to have her back at shortstop and the lead-off spot come sectionals. We are trying to stay positive.”