Whittell softball wins on the hill, exacts revenge against Hug
ZEPHYR COVE — The Whittell softball team played on the hill for the first time this season Tuesday — and made the most of the home-field advantage. The Warriors outlasted Hug (Reno, Nev.) 16-13 at Zephyr Cove Park, reversing a result against the Hawks from 11 days earlier.
“I was really happy with the overall play of the team — I’d have to say right now that the girls get it,” Warriors head coach Dave Galicia said.
Whittell (4-3) trailed 2-0 after the top of the first inning, and answered with three runs in the bottom half to take the lead. Center fielder Daria Sharon, pitcher Kelsey Kjer and shortstop Ali Copsy all scored courtesy of errors from Hug (2-5).
After holding the Hawks scoreless in the top of the second, the Warriors added to their lead. Second baseman Madison Malone and left fielder Tatum Libert got into scoring position after drawing back-to-back leadoff walks, and Sharon hit a ball through the left side of the infield to score them both — the senior then stole second, third and home to make it 6-2.
“We are working on being aggressive at the plate and being aggressive on the bases to force the other team to make mistakes,” Galicia said.
Whittell led 6-4 after the top of the third, and used a one-out rally in the bottom of the frame to stretch its lead to seven runs. Seven straight batters reached base safely during the rally that included RBIs from Libert, catcher Dominique Ogilvie, Kelsey Kjer and Copsy.
The Warriors had an 11-4 lead after three innings — an advantage Hug slowly chipped away at. The Hawks scored three runs in the fourth and three more in the sixth — headed into the bottom of the sixth, Whittell’s lead had shrunk to 12-10.
Whittell needed one last offensive surge to squash Hug’s rally — and the bottom of its lineup provided the spark. The Warriors’ No. 6 through 9 hitters all reached safely with one out in the sixth, and after third baseman Eva Fuller and backup second baseman Kaitlyn Kjer scored it was Ogilvie who provided the clutch hit — a two-run, two-out single that made it 16-10.
In the bottom of the seventh, Whittell survived Hug’s comeback attempt. The Hawks scored three runs with two outs, but Kelsey Kjer closed the door to help the Warriors secure victory — the junior’s strikeout of first baseman Lelano Muao ended the game and was her third of the frame.
For Whittell, the win avenged a defeat at Hug in its season opener. The Warriors lost the first meeting between the teams 12-7.
“It’s about progressing — this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon and we’re getting there,” Galicia said. “I’m very happy with their progress and very happy with the way the overall team is understanding the game and coming together.”
In the victory, Ogilvie went 2-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs and Kaitlyn Kjer finished 2-for-4 with two runs. Sharon was 1-for-4 with two RBIs, four runs and four stolen bases, Malone had two runs and a stolen base and Libert finished with a hit and three runs.
In the circle, Kelsey Kjer struck out 13 batters in seven innings for the complete game win. Her last five outs came via the strikeout to close out Hug.
“She struggled a little bit with her control — she pitched a lot last weekend and that was not anticipated when we created the schedule,” Galicia said. “She is such a trooper and such a competitive player that there was just no question about it — I could not keep her off the mound.”
At the Yerington Tournament last weekend, Whittell split four games in two days at Smith Valley High. The Warriors beat Lee Vining (Calif.) 20-5 and Smith Valley 18-8 on Friday before falling to Lone Pine (Calif.) 9-2 and Coleville 7-2 the following day.
“Against Smith Valley they played some of the best innings of softball yet this year,” Galicia said. “Saturday we dropped two games, but we were not really out of them — those games were still close.”
Whittell returns to action Saturday at Lampe Park, when it resumes league play against Wells (3-2). Game one of the doubleheader is scheduled to start at 11 a.m.
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