HARTFORD, W.Va. — The Mike Wolfe era started on a solid note Thursday night as the Wahama softball team put together a collective 5-4 victory over visiting Williamstown in a non-conference matchup that served as the season opener for both programs in Mason County.
The host Lady Falcons (1-0) — who lost to Williamstown 4-1 in last year’s Class A Region 4 final — exacted a little revenge in their home opener while giving Wolfe his first varsity win with the Red and White.
More impressively, it was how Wahama went about earning that opening day triumph as the hosts appeared to be more in midseason form — rather it be at the plate or in the field.
Wahama had four different players drive in timely runs throughout the course of the night, and some early offensive support allowed starter Cynthia Hendrick to find a groove through the better part of five innings of work as the hosts led 4-1 through five complete.
The Lady Jackets (0-1) manufactured a run in the top half of the first as Courtney Dotson led the game off with a single, then stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball. Dotson came plateward one batter later as Skyler Chancellor grounded out, giving the guests their only lead of the night at 1-0.
The Lady Falcons, however, answered with three scores in the bottom half of the first — all of which came with two outs in the inning.
Hannah Rose led the inning off with a single, then stole second and third as Williamstown recorded a pair of outs before issuing a walk to Taylor McGrew.
With two away and runners at the corners, Emily VanMatre pelted a two-run triple to left-center field that allowed both Rose and McGrew to score for a 2-1 Wahama advantage.
VanMatre scored one batter later as Ashtyn Russell pounded out a triple to right-center field for a 3-1 lead through one full frame.
The Lady Falcons added another run in the bottom of the second as Logan Eades received a leadoff walk and later scored on a one-out double by Rose for a 4-1 contest.
The score remained that way through five full innings, with Hendrick fanning three while allowing only one hit and one baserunner between the third, fourth and fifth frames.
But in the top of the sixth, Williamstown started to find some rhythm offensively — which ultimately led to the single biggest play of the night for Wahama.
The guests started things with a one-out double by Chancellor, who then scored on a Kayla Scott triple that made it a 4-2 game. Kristin Harmon then followed with a bloop single down the right field line that allowed Scott to score for a 4-3 contest.
Alexis Schreckengost reached safely on an error in the next at-bat, giving the guests runners at first and second with still only one away in the inning.
Wahama’s break, however, came with Nellie King at the plate. King blooped a single down the right field line and the ball was picked up by second baseman Hannah Billups, who fired a strike to catcher Maddy VanMatre as Harmon tried to score the tying run.
VanMatre’s tag was in time to get Harmon at the plate, which allowed the Lady Falcons to maintain their slim one-run edge while picking up the second out of the inning. VanMatre caught a pop-up in foul territory one batter later, ending the Williamstown rally while also preserving that one-run lead.
Russell delivered a one-out single to left to get things started in the bottom half of the sixth, then Maddy VanMatre followed with an RBI single to left one batter later as the hosts increased their lead out to 5-3 headed into the finale.
Sarah Hendrickson started the seventh with a single and later scored on a one-out single by Dotson for a 5-4 contest, but Hendrick induced a pair of grounders for the final two outs of the game as Wahama held on for the one-run triumph.
Williamstown claimed a 9-7 advantage in the hit column and also left five runners on base, compared to four baserunners stranded by the hosts. The Lady Falcons also committed both errors in the contest.
Hendrick was the winning pitcher of record after allowing four earned runs, striking out three and walking zero in the complete-game decision. King took the tough-luck loss after surrendering five earned runs and two walks over six frames while fanning six.
Afterwards, Wahama coach Mike Wolfe was pleased with the overall effort and outcome of the contest.
“That was a great effort by my senior pitcher tonight in this kind of weather, mainly because she went seven innings and didn’t walk a single batter,” Wolfe said. “If we can get starts like that every time out, we’re going to have some success this year.
“The other good thing about tonight was seeing all of those different kids contribute tonight. We got some big hits from a lot of different people and we had a lot of different people make some real nice defensive plays. Everybody contributed to this one and it’s definitely a good way to start the season.”
Rose and Russell paced the hosts with two hits apiece, followed by Billups and both VanMatres with a safety apiece. Emily VanMatre led Wahama with two RBIs, while Rose, Russell and Maddy VanMatre also knocked in a run apiece.
Dotson and Scott paced Williamstown with two hits apiece, followed by Chancellor, Harmon, Schreckengost, King and Hendrickson with a safety apiece. Dotson, Chancellor, Scott and Harmon also knocked in a run apiece in the setback.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU