Hurricane softball breaks three-game skid to Huntington

HUNTINGTON — The last three times the teams had played, Huntington had proven to have Hurricane’s number.

In breaking that three-game skid on Wednesday, the Redskins’ offense looked as if it could have named its number — as in the number of runs it wanted to score.

Hurricane settled for 10, bashing out 11 hits and stopping the skid to the Highlanders in style with a 10-2 prep softball win via mercy rule in six innings.

All but one of Hurricane’s batters registered a base hit and all but one scored at least one run. The lone hitter not to score, Taylor McCray, turned in a 3-for-3 performance and reached base in all four at-bats.

“I feel like it was more like a curse,” Hurricane third baseman Jayme Bailey said. “I feel that they can beat us easily but we can easily beat them — it’s just a mind game, it’s all mental.”

Bailey got the party started early with a solo home run in the second at-bat of the game as Hurricane staked claim to a 1-0 lead. Huntington manufactured a run in the bottom of the frame, but sledding would be tough for the Highlanders against freshman hurler Harlie Vannatter — and the Redskins were just getting started.

Hurricane added another tally in the second on an RBI hit from Lindsey Phares, got two more in the third on a sacrifice fly from Paige Scruggs and a wild pitch and then exploded for four in the fourth, punctuated by a three-run double by Katie Adams.

In the teams’ prior meeting this year at Hurricane on April 7, the Redskins (20-1) smacked a pair of home runs in the opening frame but were held scoreless afterward as Huntington rallied for a 5-2 win in eight innings.

Since then, Hurricane’s numbers across the board have been rising as contributions up and down the lineup have come in bunches.

Perhaps Bailey’s simple but honest explanation summed it up best.

“I think that Huntington game made us realize we better get our butts in gear,” Bailey said. “We need to start hitting more, we need to get our heads in the game and start hitting all the way through.”

Phares finished 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI in the No. 9 spot, McCray’s 3 for 3 came from the No. 6 hole and Scruggs contributed a two-run home run to account for the game’s final two runs in the sixth inning while hitting fifth.

Leadoff hitter Kiersten Landers (triple), Bailey and Adams have occupied the lineup’s top three spots nearly all season and have been terrific for the most part. And while the rest of the lineup wasn’t exactly struggling before, it’s flourishing now as Hurricane has ripped off seven straight wins since its only blemish.

“When we were ... not struggling, but not scoring the way we had, we had places and everyone is hitting right now,” Hurricane coach Josh Caldwell said. “Seven, eight, nine; one, two three — that’s what we’re expecting. It’s warming up and we’re getting games in now — we’re definitely hitting up and down the lineup now, which is a lot better than we were earlier.”

Huntington (15-2) had one shot to claw back in on Wednesday.

Bre Clark socked a solo home run in the fourth to close the gap to 8-2 and, after registering Hurricane’s only scoreless inning in the fifth, threatened in the bottom half.

Syd Sipple cracked a single up the middle and Emilee McClellan rounded third and headed home.

But Landers threw a laser from center field to Adams, who applied the tag before McClellan could score, ending the inning and leaving the meat of Huntington’s order, Camryn Michallas and Clark, waiting in the wings.

Landers added a triple on Wednesday. Bailey scored a team-best three runs.

Contact Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948 or ryan.pritt@wvgazettemail.com. Follow him on Twitter @rpritt.

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