POINT PLEASANT, W. Va. — There was nothing lucky about the Point Pleasant High School softball squad’s seventh consecutive victory.
The Lady Knights, in all aspects of the game on Tuesday, were simply good.
As a result, Point Pleasant posted a 9-0 shutout of the visiting Parkersburg South Patriots — scoring five runs on four hits in the first inning and its other four runs on its other four hits in the third.
The nine runs were more than enough for Lady Knight ace pitcher Karissa Cochran, who tossed a complete game two-hitter with one walk and seven strikeouts.
The Lady Knights’ seventh straight win raises their record to 13-6, while the Patriots fell to 5-16.
Tuesday’s tilt was called in the fifth inning with West Virginia’s nine-run mercy rule.
And, the key to the win was hitting — and scoring — with two outs.
Facing Patriot pitcher Megan Bosely, all five Point Pleasant points in the opening frame with were two outs, followed by its final three in the third.
To cap those innings, Kelsey Price in the first and Makinley Higginbotham in the third cleared the bases with three-run doubles to center.
“We’ve been struggling with runners in scoring position coming up with the clutch hit. In the first inning, when Megan (Hammond) got the bases-loaded walk, we relaxed after that and got on a roll,” said PPHS coach James Higginbotham. “We didn’t leave too many runners on base, we actually got some clutch hits. We’ve been preaching all year that we have to hit with two outs and runners in scoring position and we did that tonight. We also hit the ball hard and found the holes.”
Free passes played a combination role as well.
Michaela Cottrill was hit by a pitch to lead off the Lady Knight first, then Cochran singled to center — and Leah Cochran reached on an infield hit to load the bases.
With two outs, Megan Hammond drew a walk to cross Cottrill, and another infield hit — by Tanner King on the next at-bat — brought in Karissa Cochran’s courtesy runner Rachael Grimm.
Price then powered her double to center, scoring Leah Cochran, Hammond and King’s courtesy runner Lila Beattie for the 5-0 lead.
“Walks and hit batters are a lot like errors. Those no-out walks usually come back and haunt a defense. Probably 90-percent of the time, no-out walks end up scoring somehow or some way. They’re free passes for a reason, and you have to take advantage of them,” said Higginbotham.
The Lady Knights repeated their power hitting — and free-pass patience — in the third.
Kelsie Byus doubled to center to lead off, then Hammond drew another walk — and King singled behind the first-base bag.
Price punched a single to right to score Byus, as the Patriots then turned a 4-5 double play on the next at-bat.
However, Cottrill drew a two-out walk, setting up Higginbotham to drill her double — and drive in Beattie, Price and Cottrill for the now 9-0 edge.
The only other Lady Knight baserunner was Karissa Cochran in the second, who reached on the only error in the game.
Bosely retired Point Pleasant 1-2-3 in the fourth, just like Cochran did to the Patriots in the fourth and fifth — and seeing the minimum three in the first.
Cochran collected two strikeouts in each of the opening two stanzas, faced four Patriots apiece in the second and third, and retired 11 of the final dozen batters she faced.
The only Patriot baserunners were Lindsey Cox with a single to center to lead off the game, Jenna McClain with a one-out single to left in the second, and Cox with a two-out walk in the third.
None advanced to second, as Point caught Cox stealing in the first.
“We were fielding well behind Karissa (Cochran) again. If you give a team only the minimum number of outs in an inning, you have a good chance of winning,” said Higginbotham.
And, the Lady Knights have been doing a lot of winning as of late.
Hence, there’s little-to-no luck about it.
Point Pleasant played at Ritchie County on Wednesday, before traveling to Logan for a makeup game today (Thursday, April 21).
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106