Lady ‘Barons roll in opener

Published 9:32 am Tuesday, March 5, 2013

AHOSKIE – It may have been chilly, but the way runs were scoring the base paths got a nice warm workout.

Gates County topped Hertford County 21-5 in high school softball action Friday evening at chilly, breezy Ahoskie Creek Park and those 26 runs scored kept the scorekeepers plenty busy for a game this early in the season.

The Lady Red Barons, defending champions of the Tar-Roanoke Athletic Conference, banged out ten hits, scoring in all but the first inning of play.

Lady Bear pitcher Laura Henderson breezed thru the first inning, surrendering a base-on-balls but retiring the side without any damage.

Meanwhile, Hertford County got on the scoreboard first in the bottom of the first inning.  Leadoff batter Desiree James ripped a shot in the gap in left centerfield and legged it out for a double. She later stole third base and attempted to score on a wild pitch, but Gates catcher Kaila Ballard alertly got the ball in from the bounce against the backstop and James was caught in a rundown. She scored when the ball was thrown away for an error, but a HCHS lead of 1-0.

Gates County got things warmed up in the top of the second. Danielle Henry, walked, stole second and later third. Samantha Peed and Brittany Eure also drew base-on-balls to load bases. Ballard then hit into a fielder’s choice and the fielder’s choice play at the plate was botched with Henry scoring Gates’ first run of the game.  With the bases still loaded, Peed shocked the crowd by stealing home for Gates’ first lead of the game 2-1. Hannah Simpson then ripped a sharp single up the middle scoring Eure and Ballard for a 4-1 lead. Addison Cochran followed and brought home Simpson with the inning’s fifth run and Abbey Russell reached on an error, but the wild throw put runners in scoring position. Danielle Henry then batted for the second time in the inning and produced a run with a single making it seven Gates runs on three hits with one Hertford County error.

Back came Gates to post seven more runs in the top of the third inning. Eure walked, reached second on Ballard’s base hit, went to third when Simpson walked to load the bases and came home on Cochran’s single that also scored Ballard. Carson Harvey then reached on a walk to load the bases and back-to-back bases-loaded walks produced two more runs. Lily Riddick brought home two more runs with a single to right and Samantha Peed then singled to plate Riddick with the inning’s seventh run making it 14-1.

Gates added their 15th run in the top of the fourth before Hertford County finally got to the Lady Barons. Pitcher Harvey began having control problems and that produced five walks in a row, good for two runs before Henderson singled to plate two more. The four Lady Bear runs scored made it a ten-run game, 15-5.

But Gates wasn’t finished, plating six more runs in the top of the fifth inning. They then turned the ball back over to Henry, who had relieved Harvey in the previous inning and she gave up a two-out walk before getting the last batter on a strikeout.

Gates finished with ten total hits. Harvey gets the win on the mound for the Lady Barons, giving up three runs and a hit while posting three strikeouts. Henderson took the loss for the Bears.

“I feel good,” said second-year coach Whitney Perry. “We struggled with our pitching but our bats were awesome. “I never doubted we could take this one because I think I have a strong, young team and the girls appear to be happy playing together.”

Hertford County (0-1) is off until March 12 when they open Northeastern Coastal Conference play at Edenton J.A. Holmes. Gates County (1-0) travels to Northeastern for a game today (Tuesday).