Charleston, W.Va. -- Three games into the season, the Hurricane softball team continues to dominate in defense of its AAA state title, but the Redskins, with a new starting lineup, remain committed to making adjustments.
After a sluggish start at Nitro, Hurricane scored 16 unanswered runs to win 17-1 in four innings on Monday evening, improving to 3-0.
“We just came out a little flat, but we started hitting the ball,” Redskins coach Josh Caldwell said. “I know we’re going to hit, so I wasn’t upset about the lack of the hitting first thing, but defensively, I thought, we came out just not ready to play.”
Hurricane scored one run through two innings on a solo home run by Amber Null. Nitro tied the contest at 1-1 in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI single by Amber Hughes. The Wildcats scored thanks to two Hurricane errors.
With three errors across the first two innings on Monday, Caldwell said the Redskins must improve defensively as the season progresses.
“It’s early, it’s early for everybody and we have to clean up some of our mistakes,” he said. “Some of the mistakes we had in that first inning, they didn’t score, but we had two or three errors in that first inning that just can’t happen with experienced players, and that won’t happen in the future, but in a close game in the seventh inning that could be what costs you.”
The Redskins quickly erased any harmful impact from the defensive miscues with 16 runs across the third and fourth innings.
“I knew we could do it,” Hurricane clean-up hitter Courtney Rogers said. “We started a little bit rough. It’s pretty cold. We haven’t had a cold game yet, so I knew it would come along.
“I think once we started to get up, energized a little bit, we started playing, got used to the pitching, and that’s when we started to break out and do better.”
Hurricane’s bloops and blasts found holes in the Nitro defense, but Wildcat defensive miscues also aided the Redskins. Nitro recorded six errors for the game.
“Hurricane can hit the ball,” Wildcats coach Joyce Midkiff said. “There’s no doubt about it. Those girls can hit. We had our fielders in the right positions. They were just hitting the holes. There’s nothing you can do about that.”
As Null’s home run started Hurricane’s offense for the game, Rogers’ three-run home run in the fourth capped the day’s scoring. In between, five other Redskins players recorded at least one hit.
Addie Fullen finished 3-for-3 with three RBI. Null and Katie Adams each recorded two hits and two RBI.
In addition to her offensive contributions, Adams played well defensively as she assumes the catching duties in place of the graduated Linzie Reynolds.
Rogers, the Redskins’ No. 1 pitcher, said it’s been an easy transition working with Adams.
“I’ve grown up with her so it’s not that different,” Rogers said. “It’s kind of weird, because she’s a lefty, but it’s good.”
Caldwell said the Redskins are adjusting well in new positions whether it’s Adams or a different assembly of outfielders, with Abigail Osborne (right field), Fullen (center) and Null (left).
“Katie’s done a great job,” Caldwell said. “It is different and there are going to be times with any new players – our whole outfield is in new positions – so there’s going to be some growing pains from time to time, but they’ve all got the potential to be very good. We like who we got back there. We think our battery is going to have a good relationship throughout the year.”
Rogers struck out three in four innings, did not walk a batter and allowed just three hits at Nitro.
“We’re still working on finding the right combination,” Midkiff said. “Once we find that, I think we’re going to be pretty good this year. Hitting, we can hit the ball. It’s just right at someone now. I told the girls that will eventually come. It’ll start dropping in holes.”
As Nitro works toward improvement, Caldwell said the state champs will also continue to fine tune as the team moves forward.
“I told them the other day we’re not near as ready as we were last year toward the end of the year,” he said. “You’re obviously not there now, but your goal is to be there at the end. We still have some improvements that need to be made.”
Hurricane is next scheduled to play at George Washington 5 p.m. today, while Nitro is scheduled to play host to South Charleston 6 p.m. today.