The Athens Lady Hornets were looking to continue their momentum Tuesday following a stellar performance at Wills Point to open district.
With a strong performance by Van's starting pitcher Skylar Savage, the Lady Vandals left Peg Cain Field with a 4-2 victory over the Athens Lady Hornets.
“I am not disappointed by any means,” Athens coach Bryan Lovett said. “They were in it and they just have to calm down and relax and play the game. They played great in the field and communicated really well. When they get in the box they need to calm down and let the bat do the work. You don't have to do a lot and put the bat in front of the ball and let the pitcher provide the energy.”
With the loss, the Lady Hornets are now 11-9-1 overall and 1-1 in District 14-4A play. Athens returns to action Friday with a road trip to Canton to face the Eaglettes.
“Canton will be solid. I think they are a lot like us to tell you the truth,” Lovett said. “They don't quit and will hang around and make it tough on you. You are going to have to play a good game, and that is what I see in them. I will have to do some scouting on them and they will be a good team.”
Van scored all four of its runs in the third and fourth innings. The first run of the game came on a solo home run to centerfield by Ryleigh Coffelt off starting pitcher Kenzie Hair.
Van (7-9, 1-1) then scored three runs in the top of the fourth on an RBI-fielder's choice by Coffelt scoring Trystan Stanford and a Savage two-run home run for the 4-0 lead.
“Kenzie was a little tight tonight and was missing her spots,” Lovett said. “We had planned to probably get her out, but then we gave up the two free baserunners right before the big hit over the fence. We were starting to formulate our plan to try and get her out and maybe she could get through the inning. It happens to a pitcher and it is what it is.”
Athens added a run in the fifth and sixth innings off Savage. In the fifth, Cae Cae Sneed reached on an error, which scored Christina Wolverton for the 4-1 deficit.
In the sixth, the Lady Hornets scored on a single by Jill Calkins, as Abby Garcia scored on the throw for the 4-2 deficit.
“These kids are smart and Jill is so heads up and smart,” Lovett said. “I rarely ever call a steal and I am telling the kids to read what they see because I trust you. Christina saw the shortstop out of position and made her pay for it.”
The Lady Hornets finished with five hits against Savage, as she threw a complete-game with 13 strikeouts and one walk allowed.
“It was really us being antsy to tell you the truth,” Lovett said. “As a coach, you sit there and watch feet and that is always what I am looking at in watching their feet. You start seeing them move and that tells me they are amped up. In their minds, they have seen this girl for three years and they have there preconceived notions of what she is. They have to believe they are good enough, which they are.”
Garcia went 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored, while Calkins, Wolverton and Lexi Woods went 1-for-3.
“I would like to see our small ball game pick up,” Lovett said. “We talked about that and we work on it everyday. If we could put the ball in play, it will open up with the small ball game to open more holes on the infield. We have some more work to do on that and we will continue to work on that. The kids hung in there and I don't think we committed any errors and played clean ball. You are in a position to win the game in your last at bat and that is what you ask for as a coach.”
The two teams are scheduled to meet again Tuesday, April 13 at Van.