LAPEL - The Shenandoah softball team opened its bid for the championship of Class 2A Sectional 40 Monday night with a 12-2 victory in six innings against Alexandria.
People expected a good game from the two, considering that the last time the two teams faced off Alexandria defeated Shenandoah by one run in the last inning.
The first play of the game resulted in a home run for the Tigers. Junior first baseman Morgan Heck hit a hime run off of Raider sophomore pitcher Kenzie Williams. Junior third baseman Taylor Jones followed with a single.
But Williams got out of the inning as the next three batters were retired out after various Raiders caught their pop flies.
"Ultimately, we got out of that inning with just the one [run]. We were going to have to score at least one to win," Shenandoah coach Stacey Goyette said.
Goyette soon received not only that one run from her team in the last of the first inning, but seven more on top of that.
Sophomore shortstop Kelsi Lawyer started the onslaught for the Raiders by getting a hit off Alexandria starting pitcher Kaitlyn Davis. After seven pitchers Lawyer found herself on second base while her teammates howled "Go Kelsey, go Kelsey, go" from the bench.
Shenandoah's next two batters reached base to fill the sacks, but the fourth hitter of the inning was retired for the first out.
With the bases still loaded, Williams was conked in the calf by a Davis pitch bringing in Lawyer for the first Raider run. The next Shenandoah player walked to force another run for a 2-1 Raider lead.
Jessica Ballanger's hit drove in Morgan Tapscott for another Shenandoah run, and Jayden Barnard stepped to the plate. The Raider runners on first and second moved up a base on a passed ball and when the Tiger catcher's throw sailed into center field, both runners scored to increase the Shenandoah lead to 5-1.
With the score then 5-1, Alexandria head coach Lionel Martin went to the mound and made a double switch, bringing in Abby Burnett to pitch, Jenna Ogburn came in to catch, and the catcher went to the outfield.
"I don't like multiple switches but you have to deal with what you've got," commented Goyette when asked if a double position switch was common for a sectional game in the first inning.
With Barnard on first base and hoping to stop the Shenandoah momentum, Burnett's third pitcher plunked Nicole Lawyer in the batting helmet, putting runners on first and second base.
Burnett did not have any luck with the next girl at bat, either, as she walked sophomore Kelsi Lawyer to fill the bases. Burnett followed with a walk to Breanna DeYoung to force in another run for a 6-1 lead.
Tapscott stepped to the plate and drove Burnett's fifth pitch down the first base line. Burnett snatched up the ball and tossed it to first, not realizing that the runners on second and third were running to home plate. Before the Tigers knew it, the Raiders were up 8-1 in the contest.
The second and third innings flew by with little action from both teams. Strikeouts were common in those two frames.
The Shenandoah defense was strong again in the fourth inning, catching three fly balls for outs. Alexandria tried to do the same to the Raiders in the bottom of the fourth, but Shenandoah didn't let that happen.
Leading off, DeeYoung hit Burnett's first pitch high in the air in front of home plate. The catcher took off her mask to help see the ball better, snagged it, and then dropped it for an error.
One out later, Williams came to the plate. Already pitching a good game, Williams showed she could also generate some offense by blasting a fuller-count pitch over the fence for a three-run homer and and 11-1 Raider lead.
Junior first basemen Morgan Heck saved the Tigers from being 10-run ruled in the top of the fifth inning by hitting a home run over the fence, cutting the Raider advantage to 11-2. The rest of the inning ended swiftly after that.
Shenandoah did not score in its half of the fifth, and Williams fanned three of four batters she faced in the top of the sixth.
"I just felt like we could get through it like we had before and we did," Williams said.
Williams reached base in the bottom of the sixth for the Raiders and MacKenzie Perry came to courtesy run for her. Perry made it to second base one out later and scored on Ballenger's hit to the outfield for a 12-2 lead, ending the game.
Shenandoah faces host Lapel tonight in the first sectional game at 5 p.m. The two teams split during the regular season.
Coach Goyette said afterward that the team is not taking any game lightly.