By Garth Shanklin
The Williamsburg Lady Wildcats haven’t had to rebound from a regular season loss in quite some time.
Prior to dropping a 1-0 decision to Wilmington on Thursday, April 27, the Lady Wildcats had not lost a regular-season game since falling to Amelia 6-4 on Friday, April 17, 2015.
Over two full years later, the Lady Wildcats found themselves in that position again, and they responded well in a 14-3 win at New Richmond on Monday, May 1.
“Coming over on the bus, it was like ‘We had not lost a regular season game in a while, so how do we approach this?’” Williamsburg head coach Rick Healey said. “The concept was to stay loose, let the kids keep hitting it. They hit it against Wilmington, it was just at people…New Richmond’s a great team too, we did all right.”
The Lady Wildcats didn’t waste time to score against the Lady Lions, striking for three runs in the top of the first on a three-run home run by Rylee Clark.
Jacee Rhone added a two-RBI double to make it 5-0 Williamsburg. One inning later, Kara Bailey doubled in a pair of runs to put the Lady Wildcats on top 7-0. New Richmond added a run in the top of the third to cut the margin to 7-1.
New Richmond added two more runs in the third, one on a throwing error and the other on a single by Deanna Kirk.
Williamsburg fought through a swirling wind that gusted up to 40 miles per hour at times to add two more runs, one in the fourth and one in the fifth.
Things got worse for the Lady Lions in that fifth inning. Down 9-3, Clark launched her second three-run home run of the game to put Williamsburg ahead 12-3. Emma Jeffers lined a double off the left-field wall later in the frame, scoring two more runs.
New Richmond head coach Jim Reaker said the Lady Lions needed a test against a team like Williamsburg before the postseason begins next week.
“That’s a very good team,” Reaker said. “We scheduled this game this week on purpose: to start getting ready for the tournament. We didn’t play that poorly. We didn’t commit errors, and at times we pitched very well. They’re a very good hitting team, if you make a mistake they’re going to make you pay for it. I told them I was proud of how we played, we scored three runs, had five or six hits. They’ve had eight or 10 no hitters this year.”
New Richmond’s Krista Reid impacted the game offensively, as she normally does. Reid broke both the school career hits and RBI record earlier this season.
“She’s had a great career,” Reaker said. “She’s a great kid, a four-year starter. Entering today she had 137 hits, 114 RBI. As a freshman, she just got better and better every year. We’re going to miss her.”
For Williamsburg, starter Kacey Smith pitched a complete game and allowed three runs in the contest. Smith is still in the process of recovering from an injury earlier this season, but she’s coming along enough to where Healey has confidence in both her and Carly Wagers in the circle.
“She lives and dies with the spin on the curve and the screw,” Healey said. “I thought that the curve was crossing the outside corner…She came back well, she threw well. I think she’s a little bit on the rehab, but moving forward with her and Carly I have all the confidence that we’ll be all right.”
Wagers has been sitting on 18 home runs for the last week after collecting three in a win over Felicity-Franklin on April 24. One more home run breaks the state single-season record, something that Healey said he’d like her to accomplish sooner rather than later.
“I’d like to get Carly that big one so we can forget about that,” Healey said. “She hit two rockets, they just didn’t have elevation. If she’d gotten under it a little bit, gotten it up into the wind it would’ve been a no-doubter.”
The Lady Wildcats drew Cedarville in the first round of the sectional tournament Monday, May 8. A victory sets up a rematch with Felicity-Franklin on May 11.
As for New Richmond, the Lady Lions face Mariemont at home on Tuesday, May 9. Reaker said the Lady Lions should be able to advance past the Lady Warriors, but he didn’t want the team to look past their first-round opponent too far.
“If we play our game, we should beat them,” Reaker said. “Our seed wasn’t quite as good as we hoped, but we won’t overlook anyone. Should we beat Mariemont, we’d get the winner of McNicholas and Batavia. We beat McNick out of the tournament last year, we beat them this year. They have to play Batavia first and you never know.”