Freedom's softball team belts Pioneers
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
MORGANTON -- Watauga's softball team slowly fell apart in an 11-1 loss at Freedom Tuesday.
Watauga scored the first run of the game on an RBI double by Shelby Winebarger. Winebarger drove in Elizabeth Dollar, who led off the game with a single.
Offense for the rest of the game was slow for the Pioneers.
Watauga did not pick up more than a single the rest of the game. Freedom pitcher Hailey Bumgarner
retired 11 of the final 12 Pioneers she faced from the second to the fifth innings.
The one Pioneer who reached base, Sydney Jones, was thrown out trying to steal second base.
"As a team, we didn't do it today," Watauga coach Stephanie Kostis said. "Individually, we had some great plays. Shelby Winebarger had a fantastic double. That was a rope. We had some fantastic catches defensively, but as a team, all of the cylinders were not there today."
The Pioneers gave up four runs in the fourth inning and four more runs in the fifth against Freedom. Watauga pitcher Michala McCune struggled to find the strike zone in the fourth inning by walking three batters.
She also walked three in the fifth.
Freedom made the Pioneers pay for the free passes. Five of those six batters walked in the fourth and fifth innings scored runs. The Patriots scored their 11th run in the fifth when Destiny Kanipe scored on a fielder's choice hit by Rebecca Epley.
Watauga looked like it had something brewing in the second inning when Rachel Cox and Sarah Combs hit back-to-back singles with one out. Both advanced on a wild pitch, but both were left stranded on base.
Jones' single was the only other hit the Pioneers managed off Bumgarner, who struck out just two batters, but did not allow anything hit to the outfield from the third inning until the end of the game.
"We talk to our kids about the different phases of the game," Kostis said. "Physically, they played hard. Mentally, it wasn't there today. That's not saying all of them weren't mentally there. But, that's the great thing about a team sport and the nightmare about a team sport. Every single person has to be there and every single person has to pick up their teammate."
Epley had three singles, including an RBI in the fourth inning. Lauren Maynor had two hits, including a double in the first inning and an RBI single in the second. Jessie Stephenson also had two hits, including an RBI single in the second inning.
Watauga's game against West Wilkes was
cancelled. No makeup date was announced.
Watauga hosts Hibriten on Friday.
Freedom 11, Watauga 1 (5)
Watauga 100 00 -- 1 5 3
Freedom 021 44 -- 11 9 0
McCune and Winebarger. Bumgarner and Queen. W--Bumgarner. L--McCune. LOB--Watauga 3, Freedom 9. 2B--Watauga, Winebarger; Freedom, Maynor. SB--Freedom, Kelly, Epley. SF--Freedom, Pearson.