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ASHLAND -- The answer, my friend, was blowing in the wind.
On a Tuesday afternoon more suited for Bob Dylan to be singing about it, the West Holmes girls softball team took advantage of many scoring opportunities as they came from behind to earn a 10-7 Ohio Cardinal Conference win against Ashland with both teams having to deal with gusting winds.
"We talked a lot this year about needing team wins and we're going to have to score a lot of runs, especially early on in order to beat teams and we ought to be able to come back," said West Holmes coach Jaime Chenevey, whose team improved to 2-1 in the OCC and 2-3 overall. "And we certainly did that today."
Ashland took a commanding 6-2 lead by scoring in each of the first three innings but that didn't seem to deter the Knights, who roughed up Arrow senior pitcher Bryanna Masters for six runs in the top of the fifth inning to go on top 8-6.
In that inning, two WH players laid down bunts with Ashland catcher Mackenzie Foster hitting the runner in the back on the throw to first as they were inside the baseline, although the home plate umpire apparently didn't see it that way, never signaling for the baserunning mistake.
Had those calls been made, Masters could have escaped the inning with one or no runs given up but instead, six runs crossed the plate to the delight of the West Holmes team.
"Bree does a nice job and I think maybe early, I had four freshmen at the top of the lineup and she may have been a little intimidating to them because she throws harder than what we've seen early this year," Chenevey said,. "But we can hit the ball with the best of them and we did some things today, taking advantage of some mistakes they had. We put the bunts down and they threw into our runners a couple of times and we just didn't quit."
Masters recorded 10 strikeouts in the game and walked just one but gave up 10 runs, five earned, on 14 hits.
"I didn't think Bree threw that bad but they hit the ball. And you can't put it all on one player, it's a team out there and that's why you've got nine players out there," Ashland coach Bill Herman said. "Our conference is so tough in softball.And we hit the ball too, but Jaime's got them hitting the ball."
Down 8-6, Ashland got one run back in the bottom of the sixth when Masters singled and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Brooklyn Lee. But Ashland stranded a runner that inning when West Holmes third baseman Callie Cline speared a hard-hit liner by the Arrow's Mackenzie Pflum, then threw to first to get a runner for an inning-ending double play.
It was somewhat of a recurring theme for Ashland as they would leave 10 runners on base to only five for West Holmes, which got some timely hits when it needed them.
"They knocked theirs in and that happens," noted Herman.
"It's still so early and we haven't played much yet," added the AHS coach, whose team dropped to 0-3, all OCC contests. "We need the reps and we need the girls to relax a bit. We have a tough schedule and there's no time to take a break. We have to keep trying to force the issue offensively and try to find the right mix and we'll get there. No one's pushing any panic buttons.
Morganne Balder went the distance for WH, yielding seven runs (four earned) on 13 hits with four strikeouts and four walks.
Maddie Woods led the Lady Knights with three hits, including a triple with Becca Vales (3 RBIs), Natalie Martin (RBI) and Brooke Workman (RBI) all tagging a double and single each.
Ashland received three-hit performances by Clare Robertson and Jesslyn Chambers (2 RBIs) with Mackenzie Foster ripping a 3-RBI double in the first inning and Natalie Bernhard launching a double to deep center in the second.