Riverside softball coach MIke Taylor knew his Warriors would suffer some growing pains after losing their top two pitchers to graduation and not having a single player who had thrown a pitch in varsity action coming into the season.
The Warriors (4-6) have experienced their fair share of ups and downs, but picked up their biggest win of the season on Wednesday evening, earning a 8-2 home victory over perinneal power St. Albans (6-7).
“This is a big win,” Taylor said. “St. Albans is always real solid. We just needed it. We have struggled a little bit but we are better than our record. I am so proud of the girls. They deserve it and we are going to get better too.”
Taylor knew pitching would be an issue for the Warriors this season, but he indicated the staff of Catie McCormick, Amanda Cooper, and Harley Justice have worked hard on trying to fill the huge losses in the circle.
“Pitching has been our biggest obstacle,” Taylor said. “The circle is 80 to 90 percent of the game. Our three girls have never thrown a varsity pitch and that effects everything. We have to make every play defensively because we dont have an overpowering pitcher.
“Then if you fall behind a few runs, they press at the plate. It all starts in there. I knew coming in that would be a spot. They have worked really hard and they are getting better.”
McCormick got the start against the Red Dragons, and despite giving up 10 hits, only two of them were extra-base hits. She gave up two runs came on an RBI groundout by Haley McKown and a RBI single by Katie Holstein.
Taylor was happy with the way McCormick battled against the Dragons.
“Catie will be the first to admit that she is probably not a high school varsity pitcher,” Taylor said. “But I give her the ball and she will fight every time. She will battle and keep us in the ball game.
“If we make some plays in the field, we will be all right. Catie is a senior, and has been a huge addition. She played with us her freshman year and moved to Tennessee for a couple years. She moved back for her senior syear and has been a huge help coming back.”
Mccormick was esctatic in the victory over the Dragons.
“It is really big and most definitely the biggest win we have had,” McCormick said. “I’m very proud of how we played tonight. We are kind of on the lower scale. I think this will give people a reason to watch out for Riverside softall.”
McCormick knew pitching would be pivotal for the Warriors this season, and is just hoping to contribute as best she can.
“I definitely felt like I had some big shoes to fill,” McCormick said. “We don’t have a pitcher who has thrown a varsity game but we really worked hard. Myself, Cooper, and Harley have stepped up and helped our team. Today definitely boosts my confidence.
After two scoreless innings St. Albans got on the scoreboard in the top of the third innng to lead 1-0. Maddie Chandler and Madi Marshall singled to lead off the inning, and McKown drove them win with a RBI groundout to shortstop.
The Red Dragons added a run in the fifth when Marshall led off with an infield single, was sacrifice bunted over by McKown, and Holstein collected a RBI single.
It didn’t take long, though, for Riverside to respond, as the Warriors came right back in the bottom of the fifth to plate four runs.
Riverside pinch-hitter Alyssa Sparks led off the inning with a triple and Destinae Schmidt singled her in to get the Warriors on the board. After a fielder’s choice and wild pitch, Kendal Marshall singled in Cassady Schmidt to tie the game at two.
The Warriors took the lead when the next batter, Felicia Burton, hit a line drive to right field, but it went off the glove of Amber Kemplin for a three-base error, scoring Marshall with the go-ahead run.
After a strikeout, Riverside added their fourth run of the inning on a two-out single from McCormick to double up the Red Dragons 4-2.
The Warriors weren’t through, though, tacking on four more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. All of the damage was done with the first two Riverside batters striking out.
Destinae Schmidt singled, stole second, and was driven in by Cassady Schmidt. After another stolen base, Marshall singled in Schmidt, Burton followed with a RBI triple, and McCormick added on a RBI single to give the Warriors a commanding 8-2 lead.
The up and down Red Dragons have alternated wins and losses in their last five games, dissapointing St. Albans coach Bradley Brown.
“The girls have to come ready to play and tonight we didn’t,” Brown said. “We didn’t play very well at all. It shouldn’t happen. We are a better ball club than we have been playing. We are making crucial mistakes at crucial times.”