Sissonville's Katelyn Linville (left) tags out Wayne's Jess Watts.
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. -- There was about as much disparity in experience as possible on Wednesday at Sissonville's softball field, and the result sure reflected that.Class AA defending champion Wayne played six innings of scoreless and errorless baseball, held the Indians to two hits and had enough offense to ring up a 9-0 mercy-rule win in six innings on a cold and blustery evening."I swear it's 19 degrees," Wayne coach Tish Smith said. "These girls they just don't quit. They're cold, some of them are hurt, it stings their hands and everything, but they just keep going and keep going."The Pioneers (2-2) pressured Sissonville starter Bekah Baldwin until finally chasing her in the fifth inning after Tasha Maynard drove home two with a two-out, bases-loaded single to make the score 4-0.Indians reliever Alexee Haynes got the last out of the fifth, but Wayne landed its biggest blow in the top of the sixth, plating five runs on a three-run home run from Emily Fry and a two-run single from Payton Fetty to provide the final margin.There are 10 freshmen on the Sissonville roster and many of them were celebrating a Kanawha County middle school championship last season.But in the second game of their high school careers, the Indians (1-1) got a good look at the difference in competition at the middle school and high school levels."A lot of girls came to me with experience," Sissonville coach Niki Gross said. "But playing at this level - they're a little nervous. They haven't seen this type of game before. The middle school is a whole different atmosphere than high school, so you've got to step up. We're getting better every practice, but when it comes to games like this - my team shut down at the beginning of the game. They scored on us first and my team kind of shut down, I didn't hear much from the dugout, we weren't talking in the infield and it's things like that that we have to work on."Wayne threatened in each of the first two innings but Baldwin, one of only two seniors on Sissonville's squad, was able to wiggle herself out of jams.
But in the third inning, Wayne leadoff hitter Jacey Parsons reached on a single and Fry followed by reaching on an error. Both later scored on a passed ball and a wild pitch, and save for a double from Taylor Legg and a late single for Reagan Johnson, Sissonville's offense just didn't have any answers. A lot of the credit goes to Wayne pitcher Jessie Rowe, who gave up one hit and hit one batter in her five innings to go with four strikeouts.The Pioneers return eight starters from last year's team but Smith isn't putting any kind of lofty expectations on her bunch just yet."We're going to make it run," Smith said of getting back to the state tournament. "It's so, so hard. Everybody says, 'Oh, you all should be back,' but it's hard to go one time. It's got to be even doubly hard to go twice. We're going to give it a shot and if it all works out and falls into place, we'll be lucky to be there."While the state tournament may be an ultimate goal for Sissonville, right now Gross' focus is on improvement on a day-by-day basis."It's great having these talented players but they're not used to playing at this level," Gross said. "Nerves plays in a lot. We're getting better each game and each practice that we have so it's going to be alright, especially down the road having this great group of freshmen on board."
Baldwin struck out two in 42/3 innings, yielded four runs on seven hits and a walk, and was hurt by three Indians errors.Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.