The last five times the Lady Knights and Lady Jaguars from Spalding competed on the softball field, each team won two games, and they battled to a 3-3 tie back in 2009.
On Thursday, both teams took the field in the Lady Knights home opener at the ULHS softball complex. It was senior Chelsea Wainwright who took to the circle for the Lady Knights, and proceeded to pitch a complete game four-hitter. Wainwirght allowed just one run on a long solo homer in the top of the fourth inning, and did not allow a walk, while striking out three batters in the 5-1 victory.
“She pitched beautifully,” said Lady Knights head coach Stephen Hammock. “I thought she pitched to contact and let her defense work behind her. She only made one mistake which cost her a run, but other than that she was pounding the zone with strikes. When she is down in the zone, and her ball is moving, she can be hard to beat. She hit her spots out there and our defense played well.”
The Lady Knights struck for three runs in the bottom of the first inning, giving Wainwright a lead after one inning of play. Mary Masdon McCrary led the game off with a walk, and then stole second base. Rachel Bridges followed with a bunt single, moving McCrary to third base. After Bridges stole second base, McCrary later scored on a wild pitch, as Bridges advanced to third base. Bridges also scored on a wild pitch, sliding in safely at home, giving the Lady Knights a 2-0 lead.
Montana Schug singled with the bases empty, and proceeded to steal second base. Senior Hannah Watson drove home Schug with one of her two base hits in the contest, as the Lady Knights added to their lead, 3-0.
In the top of the second inning, Spalding was able to put together a couple of hits, but Wainwright retired the next three batters, including striking out two batters, leaving both runners stranded in the inning.
In the bottom of the third inning, McCrary led off with a single, and then stole second base. Bridges sacrificed McCrary over to third base, the Schug drove home McCrary with a RBI ground out. Watson added her second hit of the game, but was left on base.
Leading 4-0 in the top of the fourth inning, Wainwright would make her only costly mistake of the game. Leaving a pitch up in the zone and over the plate, Spalding’s Zorria Mann blasted the ball into the trees in center field, some 40 feet over the fence. However, Wainwright was able to get back to business as usual, retiring the next three batters in order, as UL held on to a 4-1 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Lady Knights scored their fifth and final run of the game. After Schug belted her second hit of the game, it was Watson, the clean-up hitter, who sacrificed her over to second base. Wainwright then drove Schug in with a RBI single, as Upson-Lee sealed the 5-1 victory.
The Lady Knights’ 1-5 hitters combined for seven hits, five runs scored, and three RBI. The 6-9 hitters combined for zero hits, zero runs, and zero RBI. However, Hammock says those stats can be deceiving.
“Our team philosophy is to get runners on, get them over, and get them in,” says Hammock. “With McCrary and Bridges getting on base, it allows the middle of our line-up to drive them in. We were able to get runners on and drive them in by putting the ball in play. The bottom of the line-up did not record any hits, but we only had one strikeout in the game. They put the ball in play and made the Spalding defense work. I also think to have the ability for anyone on our team to lay down a bunt is a huge advantage.”
Montana Schug led the way for the Lady Knights offensively with two hits, two runs scored, and a RBI. Hannah Watson also added two hits and a RBI. Mary Masdon McCrary tallied a hit and two runs scored, while Rachel Bridges also added a base hit, a sacrifice bunt, and a run scored. Pitcher Chelsea Wainwright helped herself out with a RBI single in the victory.
The Lady Knights will face three teams this week. They hosted Crawford County (4-4) on Monday, but the results of that game was not available by press time. Today, the Lady Knights will travel to Macon to face Howard in their first Region 2 game of the year. On Thursday, UL will host Brookstone (5-1), a team which they lost to by 10-6 score at the Jordan Tournament in Columbus to start off the season.