By Joshua Price/Sports Editor
West End defeated Sand Rock on April 3, 10-4, in a key Class 2A, Area 13 varsity girls softball match at Walnut Grove.
The ninth-ranked Lady Patriots wasted no time scoring on the fifth-ranked Lady Wildcats.
West End’s Haley Fulenwider blooped a single to right field and Joni Goss walked to start the first inning. Taylor Nichols ripped a double to centerfield to score both runners. Morgan Cleveland followed with a two-bagger of her own to score Nichols. The Lady Pats led 3-0 at the end of the first inning.
Sand Rock notched a run in the second inning to reduce the gap to 3-1.
West End centerfielder Tawny Boles doubled in the bottom of the second and scored on Fulenwider’s sacrifice moments later to extend the Patriot lead to 4-1.
West End continued its offensive onslaught in the third inning, tallying three more runs.
Nichols led the inning off with a single, followed by a double by Cleveland. Danna Browning singled down the right field line for a double, scoring both runners. Boles singled again to score Browning the Patriots led 7-1 at the end of the third inning.
Sand Rock threatened in the top of the fourth inning.
Cleveland walked the leadoff batter and gave up two consecutive hits to load the bases. The sophomore pitcher retired the next three batters to end the inning.
Brooke Copeland, Courtney Oliver and Goss each singled to start the Patriots’ half of the fifth inning. Copeland scored on a fielder’s choice by Nichols. West End led 9-1 at the end of the fifth inning.
The Lady Wildcats scored three runs off three Patriot errors in the sixth inning to narrow the gap to 9-4.
West End earned one the runs in the bottom of the sixth. Peighton Butts singled up the middle to lead off the inning and stole second base. Fulenwider ripped a single to centerfield, scoring Butts and finalizing the scoring.
Nichols batted 3-for-4 with a double, three RBIs and two runs scored to lead the Patriot offense. Fulenwider batted 3-for4 with two runs scored and two RBIs. Boles batted 3-for-4 with a run and a double.
Cleveland pitched a complete game for West End, notching six strikeouts while earning her ninth win of the season.
“We hit the ball well today and Morgan [Cleveland] always gives us a chance to win when she is pitching,” West End head coach Ricky Watkins said. “We beat a pretty good team today, but we still have lots of [fundamentals] to work on and correct. When our girls show up to play they are tough to beat and if they show up, I like our chances.”
West End improved its record to 13-3, 3-0 on the season and will visit Ohatchee on April 5 to continue Area 13 play.