WEST PORTSMOUTH — In order to take home victories in the postseason, a unit must play crisp softball throughout the course of a contest.
And over six full innings of play, the West Lady Senators did just that in a Division III, Unioto III Sectional Final against the Coal Grove Lady Hornets.
Unfortunately for West, it was one bad frame — the bottom of the fourth — that made all the difference in the contest, as the Lady Senators saw their season come to a close in a 10-6 loss to the Lady Hornets on Friday evening in a contest that was moved from Coal Grove to West Portsmouth due to field conditions from earlier rainfall.
For Dani Coleman, there was nothing for her girls to be ashamed of whatsoever.
“We had more errors than what we should’ve,” Coleman said. “However, we kept Coal Grove from really hitting the ball well and we managed our pitch selections well. We had some errors in the fourth inning that hurt us, but all in all, we played very well outside of the fourth.”
In fact, the No. 6-seeded Lady Senators actually struck with the opening salvo in the top half of the first frame.
After a leadoff double by Kayleigh Coleman, the senior advanced to second on a passed ball and third on a well-placed sacrifice bunt from Daisy Holsinger, which allowed Makayla White to bring home the second baseman on a well-hit sacrifice fly to right field as West took a 1-0 lead after the first half-inning of action.
“We were very disciplined and worked for quality at-bats all game,” Coleman said. “At the end there, we got a little anxious, but I’ve seen growth in our hitting. We’ve worked the count more. These girls are growing as softball players.”
However, Coal Grove didn’t waste time in scoring themselves.
After a double to left center field and a stolen base by Kasey Murphy, a walk by Lauren Meyer, a RBI single by Gracie Riley, and a 6-3 groundout RBI by McKenzie Moore that gave Coal Grove a 2-1 advantage, the Lady Hornets found a groove in the fourth inning as a base hit by Riley, a hit by pitch, and a single by Moore allowed Coal Grove to load the bases.
Even though Khylee Keaton grounded into a 1-2 forceout at home plate, an infield error allowed Crum to score, and Amaya Naulk brought Moore and Keaton in with her two-RBI base knock. An outfield error then allowed Waller and Naulk in, and after a passed ball brought Delaney Napier home, Riley — who started the frame with her single — brought Murphy in after the leadoff hitter reached on a walk as Coal Grove took a 9-1 advantage after four innings of work.
From that point forward, West could’ve packed up camp.
But the Lady Senators didn’t fold.
In fact, West came right back in the top half of the fifth by adding some runs of its own. After walks by Briana Bricker, Coleman, and Holsinger, White’s well-hit grounder was misplayed, which allowed Bricker and Coleman to score. Terra Butcher then added the Lady Senators’ first RBI base hit of the contest with her knock to right field that scored White, which narrowed the gap to a 9-4 count.
Then, even after Coal Grove tacked on another run behind two errors and a sacrifice fly by Naulk, Madison Cochran’s single and stolen base allowed Laney Ayers to bring in Cochran on her RBI double to left field as West closed the gap to a 10-5 margin entering the final inning of action.
“This team never gives up,” Coleman said. “They fought to the last pitch. We prepared as best we could with our hitters as far as knowing what pitches were the right ones to go after, and they executed well, but Coal Grove did a really good job as far as their pitch selections were concerned.”
In the seventh inning, West continued to show that very resiliency as Butcher doubled home White with another shot to right field to help West cut the advantage to a 10-6 gap with one out in the seventh inning. However, despite their strong-willed attempts to reach base, Haleigh Throckmorton and Taylor Coleman were retired in order as the Lady Senators couldn’t complete the comeback.
Still, West’s efforts throughout the year — especially from its four seniors in Butcher, Throckmorton, Kayleigh Coleman, and Madison Williams, weren’t lost on their leader.
“All four of them are wonderful seniors,” Coleman said. “I’d like to have them another year. I handed a lot of leadership roles over to them this year, and all of them brought excellent perspectives to the table, which have really helped our team grow. Haleigh provided leadership in the outfield, and Kayleigh and Terra were leaders in the infield. As for Madison, she helped us at the designated player position, led the girls in the dugout, and provided an upbeat attitude to the team. We’re going to have a hard time replacing what they brought to the program. They are No. 1 with me.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7