SOUTH WEBSTER — Sometime’s it’s about how you start and not how you finish.
The Wheelersburg Lady Pirates bolstered a 10-0 lead over host South Webster through the first 2.5 innings of their meeting in SOC II play on Thursday, continuing their unbeaten start with a 14-10 road win.
The meeting of the two previously unbeaten league opponents was quite anticipated and it was one the Lady Pirates (8-0, 6-0 SOC II) managed to hold onto, despite a strong comeback by the Lady Jeeps.
A pair of 3-run home runs — one each by freshman Sydney Skiver and sophomore Kiera Kennard — helped bolster ‘Burg’s early advantage as coach Teresa Ruby said post-game she was pleased with her team’s approach that led them to garner an early 10-run lead.
“I was pleased early in the game with our aggressiveness and results as we jumped out to a lead with some solid hitting,” Ruby said, afterwards. “We failed to continue that focus throughout the game. Credit to South Webster for the character they showed when we jumped out to a big lead. I was very impressed with the energy and focus South Webster brought to the game. Defensively we just did not get the job done.”
After falling behind 10-0 through the first 2.5 frames, South Webster would go on to out-score ‘Burg 10-4 over the rest of the game, and possibly could have made it closer.
In total, the Lady Jeeps (6-1, 3-1 SOC II) collected 15 hits as a team and benefited from five Lady Pirate defensive errors.
SW coach Andy Messer said after that his team went into the contest with a winning mindset, but the early deficit, and a few scenarios leaving runners stranded, were tough to overcome.
“We knew this was going to be a good game, win or lose,” Messer said. “We went into this game with a mind to win and felt confident we could’ve and should’ve won. You can look at it from a couple different angles. If we erase the first inning we win the game. Also, we left bases loaded twice as well as runners on second and third twice. You can’t do that against good teams and be victorious. That’s the difference in the game as I saw it.”
In addition to ‘Burg’s two big flies, sophomore Macee Eaton had a big day at the plate — going 3-of-4 with a game-best four RBI.
SW freshman Ashlee Spence was nearly perfect at the plate, going 4-of-5 with an RBI and two runs scored.
The four-run win is the closest game that Wheelersburg has been given in their 8-0 start to the ‘21 campaign and only the second time an opponent has lasted a full seven innings against the Lady Pirates.
Ruby says because of the tournament-style atmosphere and the strength of the Lady Jeeps, it’s a game they’ll benefit from immensely.
“We definitely want our team challenged throughout the season as much as possible prior to tournament play,” Ruby said. “This only helps to normalize what you expect to encounter in a tournament atmosphere. We learned a great deal about ourselves during this game – the question now is how we will react moving forward.”
And, after all, these two will meet again at Gene Bennett Park in both teams’ SOC II finale on May 7.
That game could mean a share or the out-right league title is on the line, if both clubs keep up their pace for the remainder of the regular season.
“Proud of the girls for not laying down,” Messer said. “We were down 10-0 and battled back. It will be a good game when we see them the second time.”
“I did believe they would be one of the primary challengers for the league,” Ruby said. “Coach Messer has done a great job there. I was well aware of the abilities of Gwen Messer on the mound and have been following their team progress. I expect them to continue to have a very successful season.”
Wheelersburg: 6 3 1 0 3 0 1 — 14 9 5
South Webster: 0 0 3 1 3 3 0 — 10 15 3
Gwen Messer (SW): 7IP, 9H, 7ER, 9BB, 6Ks
Andi Jo Howard: 7IP, 15H, 5ER, 5BB, 9Ks
Hitting — Wheelersburg
Boo Sturgill 2-5, R, RBI
Haley Myers 0-2, 2R, 3BB
Rylie Hughes 0-1, 2R, 4BB
Macee Eaton 3-4, 2R, 4RBI
Sydney Skiver 1-5, R, 3-run HR, 3RBI
Laney Eller 0-2, R
Andi Jo Howard 2-4
Kiera Kennard 1-2, 2R, 3-run HR, 3RBI, 2BB
Hitting — South Webster
Bri Claxon 1-4, RBI, BB
Skylar Zimmerman 1-2, 2R, RBI, 2BB
Emma Bailey 1-4, 2RBI, BB
Bella Claxon 2-5, R
Ashlee Spence 4-5, 2R, RBI
Gwen Messer 2-5
Lexie Smith 1-4, R, BB
Rylee McGraw 1-4, R, BB
Ava Messer 2-5, R, RBI
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved