Watauga's softball team pounds Hickory
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
HICKORY -- Spring vacation came just at the right time for Watauga's softball team.
At least that's the thought of coach Stephanie Kostis, who saw her Pioneers claim a 10-0 victory over host Hickory Monday night. Watauga (3-10, 3-9 Northwestern Conference) broke a five-game losing streak after beating Hickory (1-15, 0-13) in six innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
"I think we all agreed that spring break is just what we needed," Kostis said. "We love each other, but I think it was nice to have a little break this past week. We practiced Saturday, those of us who were in town, and we came back relaxed."
Kostis said that playing a game instead of spending more time practicing was helpful.
"This was better than practicing," Kostis said. "We knew we had to show up. We had to work hard today. Sometimes, they can get a little lax in practice, especially the first day after a break, so this is a great chance to refocus and have a chance the season strong."
Watauga pitcher Megan Jackson tossed a complete game. She struck out five and scattered six hits -- all singles -- and did not walk any batters. Just one runner reached third base and three others reached second.
"My curveball was breaking pretty well," Jackson said. "My screwball, which doesn't ever work, was on tonight, so I'm proud of it."
Jackson also picked up a single after taking a few steps towards the pitcher's mound in the sixth inning. She worked on the technique, which is technically called slap hitting, but what the team called the "Happy Gilmore" method, of hitting since Jackson is a right-handed hitter.
Nearly all slap hitters are left-handed batters.
"I've been doing it for a while, but I've never actually done it in a game," Jackson said. "We wanted to change things up and we got a couple of runs from it with two outs."
Watauga scored seven if its runs by the end of the third inning. The Pioneers hammered out 11 hits against Hickory pitcher Lauren Brisben.
Hope LaPointe led the barrage with three hits, including two RBI singles. She also scored a run in the sixth inning.
Rachel Cox also had three hits, including an RBI in the sixth inning. Rachel Hawkins added an RBI triple in the third inning.
Watauga closed out the game with three runs in the sixth inning. Cox drove in courtesy runner Marill Price, who was running for Jackson after the Watauga pitcher singled.
LaPointe scored on a wild pitch, and Kristin Gill, after earning a walk, scored on a dropped third strike that turned into a Hickory error.
The Pioneers scored three runs in the first inning, two of them being unearned. The Pioneers added two runs in the second inning, one on a LaPoint RBI single and two more runs in the third on Hawkins' RBI triple and a sacrifice fly by Elizabeth Dollar.
Watauga is scheduled to host Reagan on Wednesday and NWC rival South Caldwell on Friday. Kostis feels that the Pioneers can play their best softball in the upcoming week, and into the state 4-A playoffs.
"We talked about peaking at the right time," Kostis said. We have a great possibility of peaking at the right time now. We have the talent. We saw that today. We had great at-bats and on defense, that was the most solid effort on defense we've ever had in terms of communication and moving the ball around."
Watauga 10, Hickory 0 (6)
Watauga 323 003 -- 10 11 0
Hickory 000 000 -- 0 6 5
Jackson and Winebarger. Brisben and A. Donahoe. LOB--Watauga 6, Hickory 6. 3B--Watauga, Hawkins. SF--Watauga, Dollar.