POCA, W.Va. — They built a lead and ultimately made it hold up.
The Point Pleasant softball team led 3-2 after an inning of play, then erupted for five runs in the top of the second and eventually cruised to an 8-6 victory over host Poca in a non-conference contest in Putnam County.
The visiting Lady Knights (2-0) produced nine of their 11 hits during the first two innings of play, which ultimately led to an 8-2 cushion just nine outs into regulation.
The Lady Dots (0-1) — who mustered only six hits in the setback — benefited from an error that resulted in two runs during the bottom of the third for an 8-4 contest, the PHS produced two more runs at the start of the seventh before finally going down in order to complete the two-run outcome.
Kelsie Byus started things with a one-out single, then advanced to third on a double off the bat of Tanner King. Leah Cochran walked to load the bases, then Byus scored on a wild pitch that allowed both Amber Hatfield and Rachael Grimm — a pair of courtesy runners — to move up one base.
Hatfield was cut down at the plate on a fielder’s choice that put Kelsey Price safely on base, then Izabella King delivered a two-out single that plated Grimm for a 2-0 contest.
Price later scored on a single by Madilyn Keefer, giving the Lady Knights a 3-0 cushion just one-half inning into play.
A one-out single by Mercedes Bush and an error that allowed Molly Collins to reach safely gave Poca runners on the corners, then a wild pitch allowed Bush to score as Collins moved over to third.
Collins eventually scored on a two-out infield error that allowed Karli Hill to reach safely while pulling the hosts back to within 3-2 an inning into the game.
After starting the top of the second with an out, PPHS received back-to-back singles from Peyton Jordan and Byus. Tanner King followed with a walk that loaded the bases, then Cochran singled home Jordan for a 4-2 cushion.
With the bases still loaded with only one away, Price drove a 0-2 offering deep over the left-center field fence while increasing the lead from two runs to six.
The Lady Knights, however, mustered only three hits the rest of the way and managed to put only one baserunner beyond first base in the final five-plus frames.
Bush led off the third with a single, then scored on a three-base error that allowed Collins to reach safely while making it an 8-3 contest. Collins later scored on a sacrifice fly by Taylor Bonnett to trim the deficit in half through three complete.
Poca had runners gunned down at third and at home during the bottom of the fifth, then went down in order in the sixth before staging one last rally in the seventh.
Tori Gibeaut started the frame by reaching on an infield error, then advanced to third on a double by Bush. A wild pitch allowed Gibeaut to score, plus an overthrow on the play at the plate allowed Bush to also come plateward — allowing the hosts to close to within 8-6.
The Lady Dots, however, had their 3-4-5 hitters all go down in order as the Lady Knights completed the wire-to-wire triumph.
Point Pleasant committed all five of the errors in the game and also stranded four runners on base, compared to five left on the bags by Poca.
Cochran was the winning pitcher of record after allowing four runs (one earned), three hits and three walks over four innings while striking out four. Jordan worked three innings of relief, allowing two runs (one earned) and three hits while fanning one in a save opportunity.
Collins took the loss for PHS after surrendering eight earned runs, nine hits and two walks over two innings while striking out one. Bonnett worked the final five frames, allowing only two hits and walk while fanning one.
Jordan, Byus, Price and Keefer had two hits apiece to pace Point Pleasant, followed by Cochran and both Kings with a safety apiece.
Price led PPHS with four RBIs, while Byus, Price and Grimm each scored twice in the victory.
Bush paced the Lady Dots with three hits and three runs scored. Bonnett, Hill and Jayla May had a safety apiece, with Bonnett accounting for Poca’s lone RBI. Collins also scored twice in the setback.
Point Pleasant took on Wahama in its home opener Tuesday night and returns to action Thursday when it travels to Logan for a non-conference contest at 6 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.
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