By Deunte Marshall/Sports Correspondent
West End High School swept Hokes Bluff High School in a softball doubleheader in Walnut Grove on Feb. 28. The Lady Pats won the opener, 8-4, and the nightcap, 6-3, to improve their record to 6-0.
Hokes Bluff took an early lead in the first game. Chelsea Machleit scored on an RBI single by Hannah Evans to take 1-0 lead in the first inning.
West End answered in the bottom half of the inning, tying the game off of back-to-back doubles by Haley Fulenwider and Morgan Cleveland.
Savannah Ward’s RBI single in the third inning scored two runs to give the Lady Eagles a 3-1 lead.
Joni Goss blasted a three run home run in the bottom of the third inning to notch the Lady Pats’ final runs of the game.
Cleveland pitched the entire game to earn the win. The sophomore finished with four strikeouts from the circle. She also slapped a pair of doubles and four RBIs.
Ward paced the Bluff offense, batting 2-for-4 with an RBI.
The nightcap began the same as the opener, with Hokes Bluff jumping to a quick lead.
Ward scored in the first inning to give the Lady Eagles a 1-0 lead.
Cleveland answered with a triple in bottom of the first, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Brooke Copeland.
Summer Wilson scored Carlie Shields in the third inning to give Hokes Bluff a 2-1 advantage.
Courtney Oliver answered in the fourth inning with a base-clearing double, earning a pair of RBIs for the Lady Pats.
Oliver earned the win, pitching four innings and tallying a pair of strikeouts. Cleveland pitched one inning of relief to grab the save.
“Both of our pitchers did great tonight,” West End head coach Ricky Watkins said. “I decided to bring Morgan [Cleveland] back in if we took in the lead because she’s our ace and she done a great job this year.”
Watkins praised the efforts of leadoff hitter Fulenwider.
“Haley has done a great job getting on base for us so far this year. She is quick on the base-paths and is great for hitting in front of our big hitters.”
Hokes Bluff, fresh off of a very successful basketball season, is still working out the softball kinks and rust.
“We played very well,” Hokes Bluff head coach Rosanne Stone said. “The girls just came back from basketball and haven’t swung a bat in a little under a week, but once we get our bat speed down we will be back on track.”
Watkins was pleased with his team’s performance.
“I am proud of the effort my girls gave tonight,” West End head coach Ricky Watkins said. “We struggled early with errors that cost us runs. We are a young team in the field and that happens. They fell behind quick in both games to a very athletic bunch of girls [Hokes Bluff] but they never gave up. They found a way to win and showed a lot of guts. Some of our teams in the past would have just rolled over and gave up. Not these girls, they overcame the adversity and kept fighting and I am proud of them.”