WEST PORTSMOUTH — Energy. If Wheelersburg doesn’t have it, coach Teresa Ruby isn’t happy.
Coming into Wednesday’s league contest at West, Ruby felt as if her Pirates weren’t meeting her energetic standards. But a magnificent performance from Sydney Spence in the circle and an energy-filled Boo Sturgill on the base paths seemed to change her way of thinking.
Spence and Sturgill, alongside a hot-hitting Sarah Claxon, led the Pirates (7-1, 4-0 SOC II) to a 15-0, five-inning win over the Senators (2-5, 1-3 SOC II).
“Coming into today, our energy wasn’t where it needed to be. We return seven starters but a lot of those were freshmen last year, so we’re still pretty young,” Ruby said. “So learning to maintain energy and to bring it everyday, not just when they feel excited about something, is going to be key for us. Today, I felt like we had the energy we needed to have.”
Spence was electric with the ball in her hand. The junior surrendered just three hits and struck out 10 hitters in a game where her defense only had to produce 15 outs.
“She’s returning from a great season last year. It’s early in the season so we’re working on building up energy, sustaining that energy and being able to pitch all seven innings,” Ruby said of Spence. “I was pleased with her approach today. Still trying to work on hitting her spots and placement, but I’m very happy with her performance.”
Meanwhile, Sturgill reached base three times in four trips to the plate and scored on all three occurrences. The shortstop consistently put pressure on West’s defense by taking gigantic leads, making the Senators either throw in front of her to prevent her from taking a base or throw behind her … in which case, she went ahead and took the next base.
She ended the day 1-for-2 with a double, three runs, a stolen base and two RBIs.
“[Sturgill] enjoys running bases and she gets a lot of energy herself. It excites the team and gets them going,” Ruby said. “But she’s exciting. She’s and exciting player to watch and the fact that she’s just a sophomore is exciting for me.”
The Pirates put up five hits and six runs in the top of the first inning alone, keyed by a two-run double from Claxon to get the scoring started. Wheelersburg then put up four more in the second, seizing a 10-0 lead, as Sturgill got the inning’s party started with a double.
Two additional runs in the third and three more in the top of the fifth produced the night’s final.
All in all, the Pirates racked up 12 hits, drew four walks and were hit by two pitches. So far this season, that’s been a regular day for Ruby’s team.
The key to keeping the pace? Of course, energy.
“We’ve got plenty of talent. But it’s a long season and a lot can happen,” Ruby said. “Our first focus is winning our league. So that’s what we’re going to try to do each day … play our opponent and be better than we were the day before. You start looking too far ahead and you may lose focus of what you have to do to get there. It can be a long grind.”
Right along Sturgill at the dish was Claxon, who went 2-for-3 with a double, two runs and three RBIs while Mallory Bergan finished 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs. Addi Collins also drove in two runs while Laney Eller collected two hits and scored twice.
For West, Lainey Ayers, Nataya Richards and Morgan Rigsby each collected a base hit.
The Pirates get back to action Friday evening, traveling to Oak Hill, while the Senators try to get back in the win column the same night at Waverly.
“They have some really good bats in their lineup and they have good pitching,” Ruby said of Oak Hill. “I know we have to keep them to three outs per inning and we’ve got to execute offensively, move runners, play smart and keep them out of the ballgame.”