VALE â€” The West Lincoln Lady Rebels softball team has had a difficult start to the season.
Theyâ€™ve dropped their first three games, most recently to the Maiden Lady Blue Devils 5-0 on Friday, but have almost all of this week off before beginning Southern Piedmont Conference play on Friday at home against Cherryville. West Lincoln head coach Tyler Sain said he was focused on making two things happenâ€”getting hits, and turning those hits into runs.
â€œWe canâ€™t win if we donâ€™t hit,â€ he said. â€œWeâ€™ve had seven hits in 23 innings and one run. But we hit the ball better against Maiden than we have previously, and this was a better pitcher than weâ€™ve seen.â€
The Lady Rebels have a youthful team, with three juniors, three sophomores, two freshmen and one senior in the starting lineup.
â€œThereâ€™s potential, and weâ€™re young,â€ Sain said. â€œWith one senior starting, it makes a big difference.â€
Maiden jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Pitcher Hannah Callahan hit a double to center field to start the top of the second, but West Lincoln pitcher Rylee Marsh struck out three batters to end the inning with Callahan on third and Mollie Sigmon on first. Sigmon had reached first base on a throwing error.
Maiden pushed its lead to 3-0 in the top of the third when Jessica Cooper hit a two-run home run over the left field fence with two outs. Callahan hit a ground ball back to Marsh for a put-out at first to end the inning.
The Lady Rebels got their first runner in scoring position when second baseman Taylor Short hit a deep shot to center field for a triple to start off the bottom of the third. Five pitches into Katie Hivelyâ€™s at-bat, Maiden catcher Carolina Ward dropped a passed ball, but Short was caught stealing home by Callahan in a hotly contested call.
Hively ground out to the pitcher and Lyla Sain hit a popup to the pitcher to end the inning.
Maiden added another run in the top of the fifth with Lindsey Schronceâ€™s solo home run, and scored its final run in the top of the seventh with Christian Childersâ€™ RBI-single.
Hively got one more hit for the Lady Rebels in the game with a double to center field in the bottom of the sixth.
Sain said most of the Lady Rebelsâ€™ problems at the moment were mental.
â€œWe need to have a gut check, it looks like,â€ he said. â€œEverybodyâ€™s confidence is low. We need to play well one game to bring it back up. They need to find it within themselves, and take it upon themselves to go to the batting cage.â€
Sain said the Lady Rebels have a tough task ahead of them against Cherryville on Friday.
â€œCherryville is my pick to win the conference; theyâ€™re loaded this year,â€ he said. â€œTheyâ€™re going to hit the ball well, and their pitcher beat us as a sophomore, sheâ€™s tough.â€