MORGANTOWN — The University and Preston softball teams were scheduled for 14 innings of double-header action at Mylan Park on April 25. In the end, the Hawks only needed seven of them to take care of business.
The Hawks caught fire at the plate, tallying 24 combined hits between the two contests as they routed the Knights, 12-2 in four innings, during game one, and 11-1 in three innings, during game two.
“We can hit the ball. They hit the ball well tonight,” UHS coach Mindy Parks said. “That’s been our struggle area, and we’ve had three kids carrying the team this whole season. Tonight, the bottom half of the lineup really stepped up at the plate.”
The red-hot batting effort by the Hawks put the pressure on the PHS outfielders, who consistently struggled to keep pace with the hits sent their way.
“Our outfield got a workout today, and that didn’t work out for us,” Knights coach Mike Adams said. “One of the things we’ve got to learn is that the outfield needs to work, and they don’t do it.”
The onslaught started early, with the Hawks dropping three runs on the Knights in the opening inning of play. The charge was led by a Halei Johnson homer, which earned two runs for the hosts and the first of four RBIs in the opening match-up for Johnson.
The dagger came in the third inning of the contest, when the Hawks accumulated seven runs, with five of them coming on four consecutive at-bats. Yasmin Colebank and Hayden Powroznik paced UHS with three hits each, while Johnson earned the win on the mound.
The nightcap was much of the same struggle as the first game for PHS, as the Knights failed to record a single hit; their run came on a second-inning walk with the bases loaded. The Hawks, meanwhile, tallied nine runs in the first two innings, with Layne Assif and Carly Herring driving home three runs each and Powroznik nabbing the win with the no-hitter.
“I think they got some confidence back tonight with the two wins,” Parks said of the performance. “My team has been struggling a bit, and I think they’re starting to get it together. The defense did really well today. I think the team is going to come together, hopefully for sectionals next week.”
Parks hopes the victory can help establish the rhythm her team needs as it begins the swing toward postseason play.
“I think it gives them the confidence to play the way they can play. It shifts the momentum. They’re relaxed and aren’t feeling the pressure that they have been feeling.”
In the Knights’ dugout, Adams was as disappointed with a pair of losses as one would expect, but was still pleased to see the progress his team continues to make.
“Last year, we were completely blown out in this game. We play seniors all the way down to freshmen on our team. We don’t get a full roster of juniors and seniors,” he said. ” I think overall, being able to score some runs on a quality team like this speaks a little bit for us. Even though we’re not where we need to be, it shows progress.”
The Hawks (6-12) return to the diamond at 5 p.m. today, when they travel to Buckhannon-Upshur for a doubleheader. The Knights will also see action today, as they visit Lewis County, with the game scheduled for a 4:30 p.m. start.