Bad day, better season for HCHS

Published 11:06 am Thursday, April 23, 2009

AHOSKIE – It wasn’t a good day, but it was part of a better season.

Tuesday afternoon a short-handed Hertford County High School softball team suffered a tough 14-1 setback at the hands of league heavyweight Northeastern High School. The Lady Bears, however, have improved from previous seasons when the five-inning affair would have been normal.

“It’s only happened to us three times this season,” said HCHS coach Darrell McCalop. “We’ve come a long way, we really have. Our games have generally been tight.

“The girls are playing with heart, playing with passion,” he continued. “They’re giving us everything they have.”

The trouble Tuesday, however, started early as Northeastern scored three runs on two hits in the top of the first inning.

Courtney Schmieltke opened the contest with a single and then stole second. She scored when Danielle Carew reached on a three-base error. Carew then came home on a passed ball to make it 2-0. Meghan Stallings drew a walk for the Eagles, moved to second when Morghan Stalling got aboard via an error and scored when Caroline Umphlett drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 3-0.

The Lady Bears answered in the home half of the first, however.

Jaleesa Chinn walked and went to second on a sacrifice by Chelsie Malone. Chinn advanced to third on a passed ball and scored when the Northeastern catcher made an errant throw attempting to pick her off third.

The Lady Eagles, however, continued their offensive onslaught in the second inning when Schmieltke led off with an infield single and moved to second when Danielle Horn reached the same way. Carew then cleared the bases with a three-run homer to right field that made it 6-1.

Northeastern added a run in the top of the third when Beth Overman singled and came all the way around to score on an error on the play, making it 7-1 in favor of the visitors.

In the bottom of the third, Vanquia Brown drew a lead-off walk for the Lady Bears, but was left stranded after three consecutive strikeouts.

Carew led off the top of the fourth for Northeastern with a single and promptly stole second and third. Meghan Stallings then reached on a dropped third strike and stole second. Both Carew and Stallings scored when Morghan Stalling reached on a two-base error. Stallings scored when Kristin Cudquest reached on an error. Cudquest then scored on a passed ball.

The final run of the inning came when Umphlett hit a solo bomb that cleared the outfield, but fell just a few feet inside the fence. She easily scored the inside-the-park homerun to make it 12-1.

Northeastern added another pair of runs in the top of the fifth to lead 14-1.

Hertford County went quietly in the bottom of the fifth to end the game.

“Being short-handed with two starters out certainly hurt us,” McCalop said. “Don’t get me wrong, though – Northeastern is with Bertie as far as the two best hitting teams we’ve seen this year.”

Umphlett pitched a no-hitter for the Lady Eagles, facing just two batters over the minimum. Amber Matthews went the distance for the Lady Bears, striking out six and scattering 10 hits.

Hertford County will be back on the diamond Friday when they host Edenton in a 5 p.m. contest.