PREP SOFTBALL: South Charleston takes first game from George Washington

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — South Charleston sophomore pitcher Amanda McDonald struck out 11 George Washington batters and hurled a shutout in her first ever postseason game.

Even with the impressive numbers, McDonald wanted more.

McDonald’s dominance in the circle and Olivia Orcutt-Lazo’s solid hitting helped lead the Black Eagles to a 6-0 home shutout victory over the Patriots in the first game of their best-of-three Class AAA Region 3, Section 3 series.

GW will need a victory Tuesday to keep its season alive. With the win, SC (14-13) will advance to the regional semifinals next week.

McDonald only allowed two hits in the seven-inning, complete-game shutout. In striking out 11 Patriot batters, she didn’t allow a walk. Meanwhile, Orcutt-Lazo was 3-for-3 at the plate for the Black Eagles.

“It was good, but I think it could have been better,” McDonald said of her performance pitching. “As a pitcher, you can’t settle for anything. It worked out well for us, though.

South Charleston first-year coach Annette Olenchick was certainly impressed with McDonald’s pitching.

“Amanda did really good tonight,” Olenchick said. “She had good pop and looked rested today. That is the thing we need to keep her rested here on out.”

McDonald came into the season with a lot of pressure on her, trying to fill the void of losing four year All-State pitcher Alli Burdette.

Both McDonald and Olenchick indicated her success has mostly been to her simply settling into her new role leading the way in the circle for SC and gaining confidence pitching.

“I am so much more confident now,” McDonald said. “I was so nervous about coming in after Alli because she was spectacular. It is great having my defense behind me helping me out.”

“Amanda has been throwing with a lot more confidence,” Olenchick said. “She has settled in now. She knows that is her mound and spot. She has pitched every game for us but two.”

McDonald, who is pitching for the first time at the varsity level, and her young teammates are more confident now. The Black Eagles started six sophomores and a freshman against GW in the opening sectional game.

After a slow start, SC has been a roll of late, playing its best ball of the season in winning five games in a row to end the regular season.

“You want to be playing your best ball right now,” Olenchick said. “We preach perfection or as close to it as you can. We have gotten the fundamendals down and starting to understand the game better. They have matured and have gained a lot of experience, and are confident.”

SC claimed a 1-0 lead in their first at-bat. With one out, McDonald walked, Orcutt-Lazo hit a infield single, Emily Bostic reached on an error, and Kelly Knuckle’s sacrifice fly to center field scored the game’s first run.

Much like in the first inning, SC used a sacrifice fly to score their second run of the game in the third inning. Kaylee Stanley walked, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, to third on a single by Orcutt-Lazo and scored on a sacrifice fly by Bostic.

The Black Eagles tacked on three insurance runs in the fifth inning to take a 5-0 lead over the Patriots. Stanley and McDonald led off the inning by reaching on GW errors and Orcutt-Lazo got her third hit with a single to score the first run.

After a double play, Knuckles had an RBI single and Jazmine Martin doubled in the other run to give SC its third run of the inning and 5-0 lead. The Black Eagles tacked on another run in the sixth inning on an error.

Orcutt-Lazo’s three-hit performance drew high praise from Olenchick.

“Olivia has been our offense a lot,” Olenchick said. “Some games we get one hit and she has it. She is a big part of our offense and we just need to keep her confidence up and keep her rolling.”

Added Orcutt: “I kept hitting it at the same place. I guess that is my favorite spot. I have been hitting really hard grounders. It has helped my game.”

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