HURRICANE — Defending Class AAA softball state champion and top-ranked Hurricane is known for having a deep batting order that is uncommonly efficient at its lower end.
Then there are the days when the Redskins’ top four hitters show why they at the front of the lineup. Tuesday was one such day, as that front four went a combined 7 of 12 with two home runs, a double and six RBI in a 6-0 win over No. 5 Lincoln County.
“We’re strong right there. In the games that we struggle or don’t score it’s when we don’t get those first few on,” Hurricane coach Josh Caldwell said. “It definitely sets the table for us.”
Leadoff hitter Madison Casto was 3 for 3 and scored twice, but it was the pop in the bats of senior center fielder Addie Fullen and 2013 state Player of the Year Courtney Rogers that provided for all six Hurricane (20-1) runs.
Fullen ripped a double to the left-center field gap in the third inning to score Casto and get Hurricane on the board. Just one pitch from Lincoln County (17-7) starter Faith Huffman later, Rogers smacked a two-run homer to straightaway center field, giving Redskins pitcher Emily Davis all the run support she needed.
The fifth inning saw a similar scenario unfold, as Casto again reached with a one-out single. Junior Cassi Sargent followed with another base hit before Fullen tore into an 0-1 pitch from Huffman and homered to almost the exact spot Rogers did two innings earlier. It was the last pitch Huffman threw in drawing the loss.
“You always have that confidence when they’re up to bat. You know that Madi’s going to get on and you know that Cassi can bunt her around,” Fullen said about the strength at the top of Hurricane’s order.
“It makes everything come together and we start off really good,” Fullen said.
It was the second time in four days that Fullen became the bane of the Panthers’ existence. During the Class AAA title game in the Best of the Best Tournament on April 19 in Buffalo, she hit a walk-off home run against Brooke West to give the Redskins the tournament championship.
“She’s hitting the ball real well right now. The home run numbers might not (show it) but she’s killing the ball,” Caldwell said of Fullen’s recent hot streak.
Lincoln County coach Rod Hoover said Hurricane is a headache for any team that allows the Redskins’ top hitters to reach base.
“If you look at today they had six runs scored and six RBI in the top four,” Hoover said. “They’ve been consistent like that all year against us. So, if we can find a way to contain those top four it could be a different story.
“We start looking to sectionals and we say it starts with them, and they say the same thing, that it starts with us,” Hoover said.
The teams meet in a two-team sectional tournament series that begins the week of May 5 at Lincoln County. They have played three times this season, with Hurricane sweeping the regular-season series.
The shutout was Hurricane’s sixth in an eight-game win streak that began two days after the team lost its first game of the season, a 2-0 setback April 16 at St. Albans.
“It was a big one for us. We wanted to do that since that’s who we play in the sectional,” Davis said of the shutout. “We threw a lot of off-speed stuff today to keep them off balance, but also we threw a lot of curve balls.”
Davis struck out four and did not walk a batter in improving to 10-1.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at email@example.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter at @ItsreallyDT.