With five games scheduled this week against top five teams throughout the state, Sissonville softball coach Niki Gross knew it would be a huge barometer for the Indians to show where they were midway through the season.
The Indians have seemingly passed the test so far, and they picked up their second big win of the week on Wednesday by knocking off Herbert Hoover, 13-4, on the road.
The victory for No. 3 Sissonville improves the team to 11-4 on the season. The Indians have knocked off the top two teams ahead of them in the Daily Mail statewide softball poll: No. 2 Hoover and No. 1 Wayne. The Huskies and Pioneers are also in the same region.
“This was a real big for us and I’m proud of the girls,” Gross said. “We talked this game up with the girls. We needed this win to be up in the Cardinal conference, especially coming off the big win against Wayne,”
Aside from Wayne and Hoover, the Indians were also scheduled to play Class A No. 2 Buffalo on Tuesday before it got postponed because of inclement weather. Sissonville lost to Class AAA Point Pleasant on Monday, and the team also has a tough stretch ahead on Thursday playing in the Best of the Best tournament against Class A No. 3 Sherman and No. 5 Magnolia.
“It has been a big week and I think the girls are proud,” Gross said. “We are on spring break and the girls have been doing a lot of practicing. We are going into the Best of the Best tournament against two good teams and hopefully we can just drive off of what we have been doing and keep it going.
“Our schedule is pretty tough and I’m proud of the girls,” she added. “This is good for us going into sectional and regionals knowing we are performing against these types of teams because these are the teams we will be playing.”
The result of the game was much different for Hoover, who was without their ace pitcher Allison Rager (violated of team rules). The Huskies started pitcher Dellani Fix and sophomore Kayla Seafler came in relief in the fourth inning. Hoover committed five errors on the game.
Hoover coach Missy Smith wasn’t making any excuses, even without Rager, who is a Division I signee at Morehead State.
“That’s not an excuse,” Smith said. “I’m disappionted that we didn’t show up today. It doesn’t matter who is on the mound, playing or not. the pitchers did exactly what the were supppose to. They threw strikes but the defense didn’t do their job.
“It was frustrating. I hate it for the pitchers. We got ground balls but couldn’t field or throw them. The defense let us down. We expected to come out here and win but against a good team, they are going to beat you every time if you don’t show up.
Gross wasn’t expecting to see Rager not playing.
“I was shocked to not even see her in the lineup,” Gross said. “We were set for her. We set the pitching machine with the pitches she throws and worked real hard in practice to get ready. The speed was a lot different from what they are used to seeing against pitchers like Rager. We had to make adjustments.
Sissonville got on the board with a run in the top of the first inning on a RBI double from Alexee Haynes, a Division 1 Pittsburgh signee, and then plated six more runs in the second inning to take a commanding 7-0 lead.
In the decisive second inning, the first six Indians batters — Taylor Casto, Olivia Montgomery, Andrea Harmon, Brooke Young, Katelyn Linville and Reagan Johnson — had singles. The Hoover defense also contributed two errors after that, helping an already potent Sissonville attack.
The Huskies got two runs back in the third inning on a double by McKenzie Edmonds, driving in Kati Angle and Ashleigh Tignor, but could get no closer. The Indians tacked on six more runs in the seventh inning, just like they did in the second frame, to put the game away.
The big blows in the seventh inning came on a two-RBI double by Johnson, followed by a three-run homer from Sissonville cleanup hitter Taylor Legg, her second homer of the season.
“I was pretty happy,” Legg said. “I was trying hard not to sprint around the bases. We were definitely pumped. It feels good to come out and here and return the favor.”
All nine Sissonville batters had hits. Johnson and Legg both drove in three runs each and Haynes delivered two RBI.