POINT PLEASANT, W. Va. — With temperatures tending to trend upward, so is the Point Pleasant Lady Knights’ offense.
At least it has in their last two games, including on Wednesday against Sissonville, as the Lady Knights completed the season sweep with a 10-6 victory over the visiting Indians.
With the win, Point Pleasant raised its record to 6-4 — and completed the softball sweep of the defending Class AA state champions.
In the Lady Knights’ second bout of the season, they doubled the Indians 4-2 in Sissonville.
Wednesday’s win followed up a nine-run, 15-hit winning performance against Lincoln County on Tuesday, as the Lady Knights came back a day later and cranked out 10 runs on 11 hits.
Point plated a run apiece in the opening two innings, then scored eight runs over the final five frames, including a four-run four-hit outburst in the third that gave the Lady Knights a 6-2 lead.
Both teams traded two runs apiece in the fourth frame, then after Alexi Haynes’ home run for Sissonville, Point Pleasant’s Makinley Higginbotham belted a two-out two-run home run that just cleared the right-field fence for a 10-5 edge.
Point Pleasant coach James Higginbotham said it was to good to see the Lady Knights’ bats come alive in the last two games, especially on Wednesday.
“We hit the ball hard and well tonight. Everybody came through for us, top to bottom in the order,” said Higginbotham. “We had been struggling. We went to Winfield on Monday night and only got two hits. Last night (in 9-1 win over Lincoln County on Tuesday), we started hitting the ball better, and tonight we played a very good team that is the defending state champion (Class AA) with seven starters back. Both of their (Indians) pitchers pitched in the state tournament last year, but fortunately we hit them tonight.”
One of those seven starters is Haynes, who has committed to play softball at the University of Pittsburgh.
Her solo home run off Point Pleasant pitcher Karissa Cochran cut the Indians’ deficit to 8-5, then her seventh-inning RBI-single to score Karli Pinkerton trimmed the lead to 10-6.
But Cochran escaped the jam after Taylor Casto’s single to center put runners on first and second, as Point third baseman Kelsie Byus snagged a liner and turned a 5-3 game-ending double play.
Cochran collected the complete-game pitching win, despite allowing a dozen hits and six earned runs.
But she didn’t walk any of the 32 batters she faced, struck out six, stranded five runners, and retired the side 1-2-3 in the first and sixth stanzas.
She also faced only four Indians in the second, as her defense behind her committed only one error, compared to four for Sissonville.
“We fielded the ball well tonight and only had one error,” said Coach Higginbotham.
However, hitting held the key for the Lady Knights.
Byus had an RBI-single in the first, then Megan Hammond drew a leadoff walk in the second — before scoring on a two-out error off the bat of Kelsey Price.
With a 4-2 lead in the third, Point pushed across four runs on four hits, including Price’s two-run single to center that scored Leah Cochran and courtesy runner Lila Beattie.
Karissa Cochran led off the inning with a walk, as Byus, Leah Cochran and Tanner King conked singles, with RBIs coming courtesy of Cochran and King.
Leah Cochran then doubled down the left-field line in the fourth, scoring Higginbotham who was intentionally walked to lead off and Byus who reached on a bunt single.
That set up the fifth frame, when Higginbotham hit her two-run shot that also scored Michaela Cottrill, who singled to left right before.
Coach Higginbotham said it was crucial to answer the Indians each time.
“When you’re playing good teams, you have to take advantage when you get runners on base. They are going to answer, but you have to answer them back and score runs. That keeps your pitcher more comfortable when she has a four or five-run lead. They got a couple of runs, we would get a couple back,” he said. “It relaxes your pitcher and gives them a lead to play with. The last inning, the first runner (run scored) didn’t hurt us because we had a five-run lead.”
Byus finished a perfect 4-for-4 with four singles, as she, Cottrill and Higginbotham scored two runs apiece.
Haynes led the Lady Indians by going 3-for-4 with three runs batted in— with only a triple shy of the cycle.
Casto and Abby Jordan singled twice, as Pinkerton doubled twice and scored two runs for the Indians.
Point Pleasant hosted Cabell-Midland on Thursday, and travels to Chapmanville — beginning today — to play three games in a weekend tournament there (April 1 and 2).
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106