Even though it was their first game in nearly a week amid spring break, the North Pike softball team showed little to no rust Friday night, picking up an 11-0 win in five innings over visiting Bogue Chitto.
“I’m extremely proud of how they played tonight,” North Pike head coach Sonya Wallace said. “We hit the ball extremely well, we made the adjustments when they changed pitchers (and) I just thought that we did a really good job tonight, hitting.”
Averi Paden got the start on the mound for the Jaguars (7-2) and made her presence known early. She shut down three of the first four batters she faced, including getting a strikeout to end the inning.
Paden got immediate help from her offense.
After Abby Burnette reached on a dropped third strike, ensuing batter Kaylea Wagner hit a shot into right field that was misplayed by the Bobcats’ right fielder. The mistake not only allowed Burnette to score but Wagner also sprinted around the bases to home.
“I just knew that I needed to be relaxed and hit the ball and make contact, so I just swung,” said Wagner.
With a 2-0 lead, Paden went back to work in the second.
Again, she retired three of four batters she faced, keeping Bogue Chitto from getting into a rhythm offensively.
North Pike added to its lead in the bottom half of the inning when Emilie Williams scored on a single by Merideth Bates. Later in the inning Bates scored on a sacrifice fly by Wagner, making it a 4-0 game.
The Jaguars continued to roll in the third, plating three more runs on a fielder’s choice hit by Jolie Spears and RBI singles from Williams and Alaia Crossley.
In the bottom of the fourth, Paden helped her own cause with an RBI single. Next up was Spears, who roped a double into left, bringing Paden home and making the score 9-0.
Paden then retired the side in order in the fifth, getting a pair of pop outs and a strikeout, her fifth on the evening.
“I just tried to hit all of my spots and make sure that I tried to throw the right pitch,” she said. “I think that I performed pretty well based on the situation.”
In addition to her five strikeouts, Paden gave up only two hits and one walk. She credits her defense with playing a big role in helping her in the contest.
“It is really great knowing that I don’t have to pitch perfect,” she said. “I know I can trust them to make the play.”
With a 9-0 lead the Jaguars came up to bat in the fifth looking to add on, and they would do so with one of their big hitters. With a runner on base, Wagner crushed a 1-1 pitch over the left center field wall for a walk-off home run.
Wagner led the Jaguars, going 2-for-3 with four RBI and two runs scored. Spears finished with two RBI.
“It was really great to come out with the win,” Paden said. “We know that although we were off and resting, we came back and practiced and worked really hard to get to this point. I’m just glad that we pulled it out.”