Photo: Etowah’s Jessica Smith (left) scores a third-inning run before Ashville catcher Jada Wills can apply the tag during the Lady Blue Devils’ 14-5 victory in high school softball last Tuesday (Mar. 13) in Attalla. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy
Etowah scored at least three runs in four different innings on the way to a 14-5 victory over Ashville in high school softball last Tuesday (Mar. 13) in Attalla.
The Lady Blue Devils racked up 17 hits, including three each by Hally Bennett, Bree Vasser, Shy Gibbs and Jessica Smith.
Vasser had a big day at the plate with a pair of doubles and a home run. Bennett also had two RBI and three steals, while Love had a double and four RBI. Brown added two RBI.
“Overall, I think the girls did very well,” said Eto-wah head coach Stephen Coggins. “We made an error right off the bat when we had a chance to turn a double play, but we overcame some adversity and buckled down to get out of the [first] inn-ing.”
Freshman Kacie Byrd pitched all seven innings for the win, scattering 10 and one walk with two strike-outs.
“Kacie did a very good job. She threw a lot of first-pitch strikes, worked ahead in counts and allowed only one walk. Plus, defensively we’re really strong. No matter if you hit or bunt a ball to one of our infielders, we’re going to get an out.
“We just need to keep improving offensively. We have a lot of girls that are figuring out that some-times you don’t need a hit to contribute on off-ense. Sometimes all we need is a bunt to move ru-nners over, a ground ball to drive in runs or even a sa-crifice fly to score a runner from third base.”
While Byrd kept the vi-sitors off the scoreboard for the first two innings, Abby Martin, Bennett and Vasser all scored in the bottom of the first inning to give Etowah the lead for good. Bennett, Lexi Brown and Melissa Love came home in the second to make it 6-0.
The Lady Bulldogs cut the margin to 6-2 in the top of the third with runs by Ashley Estes and Hannah England, but Bennett, Va-sser and Alexus Phillips scored in the bottom of the inning to make it 9-3.
Byrd retired the side in order in the fourth, and Phillips’ RBI sacrifice fly pushed the lead to seven.
Sydney Chamness’ home run in the top of the fifth kept Ashville within striking distance, but Va-sser’s solo dinger in the bottom of the inning and Bennett’s two-run double in the sixth put the game out of reach.
“The girls are playing better and better as the year goes on,” said Coggins. “We’re working ahead in counts and walking less people. Those were things that we struggled with early on, and we’ve made the right adjustments. I’m excited to work with this group of girls. They’re very young, but at the same time, they have a chance to be very good and do something special this year.”