Battle smacked nine hits, took advantage of six Gate City errors and got a solid pitching performance from Madison Hill on Wednesday to take a 10-2 Mountain 7 District softball win at Gate City.
The win kept the Lady Trojans (6-0, 3-0) perfect through the first quarter of the regular season.
Battle did just about everything right on the field, scattering its hits and runs — including four in the third and three in the fourth — throughout the game.
First-year John Battle coach Hannah Cress did not pull any punches about her team’s play.
“We’re playing well right now,” Cress said matter-of-factly. “We’re hitting the ball. We’re playing small ball. We’re hitting the ball hard. My pitcher is doing what she needs to do to stay ahead in the count, and they’re just grasping on to everything that I’ve kind of thrown at them.”
TAKING WHAT THEY GIVE YOU
Cress, a star pitcher at the former Coeburn High School and King University before spending the last three seasons as pitching coach at Wise Central, has the Lady Trojans playing the same way she played — aggressive.
Only five of Battle’s runs were earned, but Cress wasn’t concerned about how the runs were scored.
“We’re playing a different style of ball than they’re used to, but I don’t care as long as we win,” said Cress. “I don’t care how we score runs as long as we’re winning.
“These kids listen. They’re a good bunch of kids. And we’re hitting the ball well, we’re pitching the ball well, we’re playing defense when needed. So we’re just kind of doing it all.”
The Lady Trojans scored four runs on one hit and three Gate City errors in the third inning to take a 4-1 lead.
They increased the lead to 7-1 in the fourth inning with a three-run home run from Maggie Deel.
John Battle also got strong plate performances from Emma Harmon and Caroline Hensley. Each finished 2-for-4.
Haley Dye, Sarah Musick and Hannah McReynolds each added an RBI for the Lady Trojans.
Hill was strong on the mound for Battle. She picked up the complete-game win, allowing two runs on four hits, while striking out nine and walking two.
While John Battle continued to roll, Gate City (5-4, 1-3) continued to slide.
After a 5-0 start to the season, the Lady Blue Devils dropped their fourth straight game and their third straight district contest.
Defensive errors were the biggest disappointment for Gate City coach Cara Noe.
“We knew going in that we had to play error-free ball. We didn’t play error-free ball, and a good team is going to take advantage of it. And they’re a very good team,” said Noe. “We need to give ourselves a chance to win the ball game, and errors don’t give us a chance to win the ball game.
“We lost some ball games that I felt like we should have won, and we just can’t let that snowball. We’ve got to win some ball games and we’re capable.”
Kate Pendleton had Gate City’s only RBI on a double in the second inning.
Elizabeth Salyers also added a double for the Lady Blue Devils.
Battle will travel to Ashland, Ky., over the weekend to play three games in the Tri-State Tournament.
Gate City is also scheduled for tournament action on Saturday with two games slated in a round-robin event at Abingdon.