However, when Cass pitcher Hannah Lee came on in relief, baserunners would be few and far between from there on out as Cass defeated Woodland 3-2 Thursday at Cass High.
“She did a great job,” Cass coach Greg Hight said of Lee. “She stepped in there with the bases loaded, one out and gave up two runs that weren’t really hard-hit balls. She settled in, hit her spots.
“[Woodland is] a very good team. We feel good about the win.”
Lee allowed two inherited base runners to score in the first inning, but allowed just three hits from the second inning on.
“You can’t win with five hits,” Woodland head coach Colman Roberts said of the game. “I thought Hannah Lee did well, though. She came in in the first inning and shut us down. She kept us off balance. We were just way out in front.
“It hurts us. It hurts us bad. Cass is a good team. We knew that. They battle. They were swinging the bat.”
Woodland’s Sydney Hodorff and Courtney Godfrey each hit RBI singles in the first inning to give their team an early 2-0 lead.
Cass wasted little time to respond as the Lady Colonels scored two runs in the bottom of the first when three of the team’s first four batters singled. Hope Elrod led off with a single and stole second base. Sierrah Gani followed two batters later with an RBI single and Lee advanced Gani to third base with a base hit of her own. Savannah Hutchins then grounded out to score Gani.
“I’d like to put [hits] together more, score a few more runs, but overall, we swung the bats well today,” Hight said. “Against good pitching, you have to put the ball in play and make things happen, and that’s what we did.”
Cass would take the lead for good in the third inning when Lauren Womack walked and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Womack then scored on a strikeout when the ball got away from the catcher. The throw to get the baserunner out at first base was not in time and Womack scored all the way from second base.
The one-run lead was enough for Lee the rest of the way.
Woodland did string two hits together on a single by Bridgett Hampton and a double by Hodorff with two outs. Lee would strand both base runners and there would not be another threat for the rest of the game.
“Our approach just isn’t good,” Roberts said of his team’s offense. “It seems like we should be able to hit away, and [Lee] kept it away. She’s a good pitcher, but we’re going to face good pitching all year. We just have to make adjustments and come ready to fight and have a better approach at the plate.
“We didn’t strike out much, but we were hitting weak groundballs, popping up in the infield. That’s as good as a strikeout to me. Hats off to them. They played well and we have to go back to work.”
Lee only struck out two batters but benefitted from strong defense as Gani made several nice plays at shortstop.
“We played flawless behind [Lee] and that’s what it takes. Our pitching is going to be fine, and defensively, I think we’re as solid as anybody you’re going to see,” Hight said. “Sierrah Gani made some plays at short and I expect that all year. On top of that, moving Womack to second base and I have two shortstops playing on the infield.”
At the plate, Elrod went 2-for-3 in the game and Hutchins added a double for Cass. Lynnsey Hollifield and Aleigha McDaniel added hits for the Lady Colonels.
Cass now moves to 1-1 while Woodland falls to 0-3 and 0-2 in region play.
“We have to battle. I mean, you didn’t have to get up for this game — crosstown rival, region game, losing our first two,” Roberts said. “We have a real good team in River Ridge coming up Tuesday, so it doesn’t get any easier.”
Cass will move on to play at Cedartown on Monday and go back to region play Tuesday at Rome.
“I don’t think there’s a weak team in our subregion,” Hight said. “River Ridge is strong. I knew Dalton would be strong from last year, Creekview, Sequoyah. It’s a tough subregion.”
Excel 16, Model 1
It did not take long for the Excel softball team to find its stride this season.
The Lady Eagles made quick work of Model in their first game Thursday at home as they won 16-1 in three innings.
“We have some good hitters. We scored a lot of runs last year and they’re all a year older. We knew we were going to have some offensive firepower,” head coach Chad Parker said. “Some days don’t show it, but if we hit like we do in practice every day, then we will have scores like this.”
Junior transfer Savannah Sewell threw a no-hitter while Brighton McCollum hit a walk-off home run to win by way of the mercy rule.
Sewell struggled with command early in the game as she hit the leadoff batter and walked three of the next five to force home a run. However, Sewell allowed just one base runner for the remainder of the game and struck out seven.
“She wasn’t nervous by any means. She was just missing,” Parker said of Sewell. “The first pitch of the game she hit the batter and that might have rattled her a little bit, but she got back on her game and showed her worth, that she’s up to the billing that everybody told us she was.”
In addition to her walk-off home run, McCollum went 4-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Sewell also contributed three hits at the plate, including a double, two runs and an RBI. Taylor Gibson had a three-hit evening and Hanna Cauthen went 2-for-3 with a double, three RBIs and two runs. Rachel Parrot, Tessa Thornbrough and Lexie Adams each added two hits of their own.
Eight of Excel’s nine batters recorded at least one hit and all nine reached base at least twice.
“We hit the ball,” Parker said. “What we did best was we didn’t strike out. Our two-strike approach was what we did well and we had some hits to the opposite field, which has been a point of emphasis for us.”
Excel will look to have similar success when the team plays two games today at the Dalton Tournament.