MORTONS GAP — Last season, it took the Hopkins County Central softball team 10 games to get its first win.
But the Lady Storm only needed one this year, as they won their season opener over Trinity (Whitesville) on Thursday, 7-4.
“It feels great,” said first-year Central coach Lora Boyd. “These girls have worked really hard in the offseason, and they’re getting better. We’ve got a young group, and they’ve come a long way.”
It was not an easy win for Central (1-0), as the Lady Raiders (1-1) put the first run on the board in the top of the first, and then after the Lady Storm took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first, came back to tie the game three separate times over the next four innings.
But every time Trinity scored to tie the game, the Central bats responded in the bottom half of the inning to retake the lead.
“I liked their ability to stay focused and know that we have to hold them on defense, and they came back and had solid hits,” Boyd said. “We started to wear their pitcher down, and then we came back with more and more hits.”
The Lady Storm’s big break came in the bottom of the fifth inning, just after the Lady Raiders tied the game at 4-4 in the top half.
Central put together its best rally of the game, as an infield single, a hit batter and a walk loaded the bases with no outs. Junior Grace Harkins hit a pop to shallow left that was misplayed by the Trinity shortstop, allowing eighth-grader Madison Grigg to come in with the go-ahead run.
Then freshman Madelyn Tow put the nail in the coffin, hitting a long single to deep center that scored junior Paxton Gray and eighth-grade courtesy runner Keri Reynolds.
Sophomore Josie Menser pitched a complete game for the win, and although she allowed a run to score in four of the first five innings, she never let any inning get out of hand.
She stranded eight Lady Raider baserunners throughout the game, including six that were in scoring position.
“I think Josie Menser has grown leaps and bounds,” Boyd said. “She threw pitches I’ve never seen her throw. She’s coming solid, and she set some batters down (this game).”
Tow finished the game 3-for-3 with a double, a run scored and two RBIs, while Gray went 1-2 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI. Eighth-grader Sarah Linville went 1-3 with a run and an RBI, while eighth-grader Keli Reynolds finished 2-3 with an RBI.
This was the first time the Lady Storm won their season opener since 2014, which incidentally was the last time the team finished with a winning record.
Boyd said the win was a good first step, but the team has to continue moving forward as the season goes on.
“I hope we only go up from here,” Boyd said. “We’ve got some more work to do, and we’re looking forward to growing each game.”
Central is next scheduled to play cross-county rival Madisonville-North Hopkins on Friday at North.
The game is set to start at 5:30 p.m., weather permitting.
Central 7, Trinity 4
WP: Menser LP: Howard