CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Sissonville scored each of its first seven runs with two outs Monday, taking advantage of seven Poca errors en route to clinching the Class AA Region 4, Section 2 softball championship with an 11-5 win over the Dots at Sissonville High School.
With the win, Sissonville (20-8) advances to the Region 4 semifinals on May 15, when the Indians will play either Herbert Hoover, Nicholas County or Clay County.
“There were a couple times when we came out with two outs and rallied on that big time,” Indians coach Niki Gross said. “I’m really impressed with the way the girls hit tonight, and this shows me that we’re ready going into regionals.”
Sissonville pounded out 14 hits in the sectional-clinching win after scraping by to get a 4-2 win over the Dots (16-14) in the sectional opener earlier in the day. While the hit total was of significant size, five of the Indians’ first six hits were infield singles. When compounded with Poca’s difficulty in fielding the ball that began early and continued throughout the loss, Sissonville starting pitcher Alexee Haynes had a comfortable lead to work with from the early going.
Haynes, who won Game 1 of the doubleheader, lasted four-plus innings of the nightcap before giving way to reliever Taylor Casto. The sophomore, whose primary position is center field, had a strong day at the plate, going 3 for 5 after she doubled in the opener.
Not only were each of Sissonville’s first seven runs scored with two outs, they were all unearned.
“We’ve talked to these girls a lot, and our big thing is to never give up,” Gross said about the hustle her team displayed in taking advantage of so many opportunities.
“It doesn’t matter if there’s two outs or if you’re down in the game, you never give up,” Gross said. “You need to stay focused. We’ve had some really good practices coming into this game and we had two big games (against Lincoln County and Ashland Paul Blazer, Ky.) over the weekend and we beat Ashland. That was a big momentum thing for us.”
It wasn’t until the top of the seventh, when the Indians led 7-3, that Sissonville put some numbers into the earned run column. Taylor Legg hit a one-out double to score Reagan Johnson, who had reached on an error earlier in the inning. Abby Jordan followed Legg with a single that scored two more runs, the only earned scores of the game for the sectional champs.
“We didn’t play solid, we played like we were real young there in the second game,” Poca coach David Skeens said. “Even in the first game we gave them some runs they shouldn’t have had. We just didn’t make the plays when they were right there to be made.”
That trend followed Poca from the field into the batter’s box. The Dots stranded eight runners in the second game. In the first game the Dots had a chance to tie the game in the sixth inning before they left the bases loaded.
Johnson went 3 for 4 in the sectional-clinching win, scoring twice. Haynes improved her record on the season to 14-4. Gross said her decision to start her in the second game after she threw a complete game in the first had to do with maintaining her focus. Haynes had a three-run home run disallowed in the first game when a pitch from Poca freshman Jasmine Luikart was waived off because the home plate umpire was not in position.
“She was strong and focused and we talked to her and she said she could pull it out,” Gross said. “That home run that she hit that was called back, it really took her out of focus and we had to get her (head) back in the game starting with the second game. She was a little upset about that but she let that fade away once we got started in the second game.”
Luikart was 3 for 3 for Poca in the loss.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.