By MATTHEW BROWN
Journal Sports Writer
With five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Westfield’s softball Hornets pulled away from the Mt. de Sales Cavaliers in a home non-region game Monday. Kyle Davis’ club, just a few days after completing a four-game sweep of all GISA Region 2-AAA contests, came back from three runs down to win 9-3.
The Hornets have two more scheduled ‘tune-ups’ for the GISA AAA playoffs, which will begin with a best-of-3 series at home (against the fourth-place team from Region 4-AAA) on Oct. 8. Those games are all next week, Oct. 2 against LaGrange at home and Oct. 4 at Flint River Academy.
It wasn’t a pitching line winner Sydney Barker will be happy with as she walked five batters to give up all three of Mt. de Sales’ runs in the top of the first inning. The Cavs put runners on base for six of the seven innings, and the leadoff batter reached in the first five turns.
But from the second to the seventh, Barker scattered four hits and added two more walks for a total of seven. When she gave the three first-inning runs, she also struck out the side. For the game, Barker fanned eight batters.
The pitcher was also involved in an entertaining double play that ended a significant Cavalier scoring threat in the top of the fourth.
In that first inning, though, the first three batters reached via a walk, and with the only hit of the frame MDS scored one. It looked like, as Barker whiffed two in a row, Westfield would only be down one, but an untimely pick-off error plated a second run. Two more passes and one more run followed.
The Hornet offense responded with a two-run first inning highlighted by Chelsea Whaley’s RBI triple to deep right. Laura Johnson drove in Whaley from third base.
Liza McDaniel’s bunt single led off Westfield’s second inning. She ran her way to third base with one out and scored the tying run on Callie Hammerle’s squeeze bunt.
The Hornets were also able to expose a weak link in the Cavalier infield to both go ahead and build up their advantage.
In the home third, Johnson was on second base with two outs when Jenni McDaniel popped the softball. Running all the way, Johnson put Westfield up 4-3 on a dropped catch.
MDS’ most noise with the bat came from leadoff batter Anna Katherine Walton. For the third straight time, Walton was the first batter of an inning, and for the third time she was on base. This time it was a double deep to center.
Walton went to third base on a ground-out. The Hornet defense returned the favor from the previous frame by dropping a shallow pop, but it was in front of Walton, who remained on her base.
Taylor Mayhue batted and ripped a ball back to the circle. It was so hard that Barker fell backwards while making the catch. From the seated position, the pitcher got off a good throw to retire Mayhue at first.
Johnson fired the ball Hammerle at the plate, and Walton found herself caught in a rundown. The catcher Hammerle made two throws, one to L. McDaniel and the last to Whaley, who completed the double play.
Westfield’s five-run sixth began with an second dropped pop-up, this one with one out and no one on base. Hammerle became the first of eight Hornets to reach in a row as hits by Barker and Whaley filled the bases and Johnson walked in a run.
Hannah Livingston’s first hit produced her first RBI, and Hannah Edwards, who was not in the starting lineup, put the ball a few feet from the plate. That scored two runs as the Cavs made a bad throw home.
J. McDaniel also earned an RBI hitting into a force play.