CORNING, Ohio — Not the first in flight, just the first to fly solo.
The Wahama softball team secured the program’s first-ever outright championship in the Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division on Friday night with a resounding 16-0 victory over host Miller during five innings of play in Perry County.
The visiting Lady Falcons (21-8, 14-2 TVC Hocking) earned their third TVC Hocking softball title since joining the league in the spring of 2011, but the 2012 and 2013 squads both shared a championship with Eastern in their previous perches atop the final standings.
WHS, however, became the first team since Belpre in 2011 to win an outright championship in the TVC Hocking not named Eastern. EHS, before Friday, had won at least a share of the last five league crowns.
The Red and White — who defeated MHS (2-15, 2-12) by a 16-0 count in three innings just 48 hours earlier in Hartford — outhit the hosts by a sizable 16-1 overall margin and also benefited from five Miller errors, which eventually led to seven unearned runs.
Wahama sent nine runners to the plate in the top half of the first, which yielded five runs on six hits for an early 5-0 advantage. Ashtyn Russell doubled home Hannah Rose for the eventual game-winner with one away in the opening frame.
The Purple and White held the guests scoreless over the next two frames, then came away with their only hit of the night following a leadoff single by Madoline Wallace in the third. Wallace was eventually stranded at second and the hosts had their final nine hitters retired in order.
Wahama produced four runs on four hits and two errors in the fourth for a nine-run cushion, then sent another dozen batters to the plate in the fifth while churning out seven runs on four hits, two walks and two errors — wrapping up the mercy-rule outcome.
Cynthia Hendrick was the winning pitcher of record after allowing one hit and one walk over three innings while striking out six. Rose and Hannah Billups also recorded at least one strikeout in an inning of work apiece.
Mendy Smith took the loss after surrendering nine earned runs, 16 hits and two walks over five frames in the circle.
Wahama committed only one of the six errors in the game and also stranded seven runners on base, compared to three left on by the hosts.
Rose, Russell and Autumn Baker led WHS with three hits apiece, followed by Emily VanMatre and Maddy VanMatre with two safeties apiece. Hendrick, Billups and Taylor McGrew also had a hit each in the triumph.
Both VanMatres drove in a team-high three RBIs each, while Rose and Russell knocked in two runs apiece. Hendrick, McGrew, Billups and Baker also drove in a run apiece.
Rose, Russell and Logan Eades scored three runs each, followed by Billups and Baker with two scores apiece. Hendrick and each VanMatre also scored once for the victors.
Wahama was fifth in the TVC Hocking standings a year ago at 10-6 and ended the 2016 campaign with an 18-11 overall record. The Lady Falcons also lost eight seniors from that 2016 squad that participated in the program’s first-ever Class A Region 4 championship game last spring.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.
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