By Garth Shanklin,
Sports Editor –
In the team’s last three games, all wins, the Williamsburg Lady Wildcats’ softball team has allowed a grand total of one run.
Two of those three contests have been shutouts, both started by Carly Wagers. Not only has Wagers kept opposing teams off the scoreboard, she’s kept them off the basepaths, tossing perfect games in each of her last two starts.
On Wednesday, April 5 against Bethel-Tate, Wagers struck out all 15 batters in an 18-0 Williamsburg victory.
Wagers didn’t start the team’s next game, a home contest against Goshen. That start went to Kacey Smith, but Wagers returned to the circle on Monday, April 10 against Whiteoak and struck out 11 more batters in another Lady Wildcat victory.
The game in between the two perfectos was an interesting test for the Lady Wildcats. Smith started the game but did not finish it.
Faith Golden’s first career home run came for Williamsburg in the bottom of the third, putting the Lady Wildcats on top of Goshen’s Lady Warriors 1-0.
In the top of the fourth, Smith had trouble with her control. Mackenzie Lovin led off the inning with a single. She came around to score on the bases-loaded walk from Smith to Cheyenne West.
Smith was pulled from the game after the free pass, and Wagers was brought in with the bases loaded and a 1-0 count on the hitter. Wagers struck out the first batter she faced, then got an out at the plate for the second. Another strikeout ended the inning and the Goshen offensive threat.
Wagers struck out the side in both the sixth and seventh innings, though she led off the seventh with a walk to Katie Nichols.
The Lady Wildcats’ offense came alive in the bottom of the fourth. Belle Middendorf led off the inning with a single and was promptly erased on a fielder’s choice by Emma Jeffers. Jeffers came around to score Williamsburg’s second run of the game on a single by Golden, giving the Lady Wildcats a 2-1 lead.
The Lady Wildcats added to that lead in the bottom of the fifth. Wagers tripled into right field. She scored one batter later when Makayla Kirschner doubled.
More runs crossed the plate for the Lady Wildcats in the sixth. Emma Jeffers doubled to the wall in center field to lead off the frame, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball to put Williamsburg ahead 4-1.
Golden was then hit with a pitch and stole second. She made it 5-1 Lady Wildcats on a double by Peyton Fisher, who scored the team’s sixth run on a wild pitch. Rylee Clark singled to center, followed by a single to right-center by Jacee Rhone, moving Clark to third. Clark scored Williamsbug’s final run of the contest.
Wagers picked up the win for Williamsburg, tallying nine strikeouts. Golden finished with two hits in two at-bats and a pair of RBI. Clark and Fisher also collected two hits for Williamsburg.
Lovin’s single was one of Goshen’s three hits in the game. The Lady Warriors also drew five walks. Head coach Eric Campbell said he was proud of how his team hung in the game against a tough opponent.
“For the first three or four innings it was a 1-1 ballgame, we held our own,” Campbell said. “I’m very proud of the team. Williamsburg is the real deal, this is who you want to beat. We’ve got Western Brown right around the corner, this is a great game to play right before that. I think we proved ourselves today, unfortunately we took the loss.”
On the other side, Williamsburg head coach Rick Healey said he wasn’t sure what caused the team to start so slowly.
“The girls started complacent, and I don’t know if it was because of the change,” Healey said. “We were supposed to be at Goshen, then we came here. It was going to be at 4:30 p.m., then we did it at 4 p.m. The first three, maybe four innings, it was just in and out, in and out. Compared to the way we have been team spirit-wise and aggressiveness, we weren’t the same tonight as we have been.”
Healey credited the Lady Warriors for their play, adding he hoped it served as a warning to the Lady Wildcats.
“Goshen’s a fine team, they’re well-coached,” Healey said. “I hope that’s a wake-up.”
Campbell said the Lady Warriors’ plan on defense was to limit the damage done by Williamsburg’s two best hitters. Combined, Wagers and Smith finished one for three with a pair of strikeouts. Both hitters walked twice, though Smith was removed from the game in the fourth inning.
“A big deal for me and for the team was to limit Wagers and Smith,” Campbell said. “I know they’re great hitters and can hit home runs.”
Wagers came into the game with the bases loaded and a 1-0 count on the hitter. Healey said she was placed in a difficult position, but still managed to escape with no runs scoring.
“I let [Smith] in to see what she was going to do, I had no idea she was hurting,” Healey said. “I knew she wasn’t herself. When she threw that first ball, it was time to shake it up and make some position changes, as much as anything to get Goshen thinking, ‘OK, now we have another hill to get over.’ I put her in a tough spot, not only bases loaded but the batter now has a ball and I need you to get out of this.”
Campbell credited his team’s emotions, saying they didn’t get down on themselves and had plenty of chances to score runs.
“Nobody was hanging heads,” Campbell said. “We were neck and neck. Being that it was a 1-1 game, we proved that we could hang with them. We had a lot of baserunning opportunities that we couldn’t cash in on. I think that was probably a positive too. I don’t know how many we left on base, but I think it proved a lot to the kids. We believed we could win this game when we got here.”
Goshen returned to the field to take on Western Brown on Monday, April 10. The Lady Broncos defeated the Lady Warriors 10-0.
Goshen’s next contest is a home match against Felicity-Franklin on Friday, April 14 at 5 p.m. Williamsburg visits Amelia for a 4:30 p.m. contest that same day.