Winds of Change

By Dan Woodlock
Times-Junction Sports Editor

You just knew that at some point, the struggling Lady Flashes' offense would finally break loose like a rushing wind.

Even if neither Willard, nor Ontario, enjoyed the comparison Tuesday night.

Battling not only the Lady Warriors on the road, but also fierce wind gusts that steadily blew in from rightfield all evening, it was Willard that huffed and puffed and blew the house down on Ontario, rolling to a 16-0, five-inning rout to snap a six-game losing streak.

WHS (3-7, 2-3) littered the basepaths all game, tallying 11 hits and working 13 walks off of Warrior pitchers.

Kelsey Robinson put together her most explosive game of the season, going 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBI. She slammed her first home run of the regular season, a line-shot blast to left that cut through the teeth of the wind, leading off the Willard fourth.

The Lady Flashes sent 14 batters to the plate that inning, stringing together a crushing eight-run fourth that completely put things away. This, after Willard had already put OHS in an 8-0 hole through three.

Morgan McDowell added two hits and a game-high four RBI for the Lady Flashes, highlighted by a three-run triple in the fourth. Brandy Mizer joined the multiple-hit brigade, as she also contributed two walks, two runs, three RBI and two stolen bases.

"It certainly wasn't expected that this would be the night we broke out of things, especially with these winds we faced all night," said Willard Head Coach Curt Storts. "It came down to quality at-bats, and we had a lot tonight.

"We emphasized hitting the ball down and hard," he added. "If you got it up into the wind tonight, I wasn't going to carry anywhere."

Not to be lost in the offensive uprising was a quietly stellar night in the pitching circle for Emily Stephens. The junior improved her record to 3-5 for the season, firing five shut-out innings, allowing just four hits, with four strikeouts and no walks.

"Emily pitched a super game and our defense played great in backing her up," said Storts. "It also felt great getting everyone into the game to contribute."

Ontario threatened in the second when Mackenzie Snow singled with two outs and Briana Carmack followed with a looping fly ball double to right.

Stephens worked out of the jam by retiring Katherine Remy on a ground-out.

The Lady Warriors put two runners on in each of the final two innings, only to see Stephens hold them off the scoreboard courtesy of a ground-out and a pair of infield pop-ups.

Snow finished with two of the four Ontario hits.

Huron 9, Willard 1

It wasn't as if Allison Litz didn't create plenty of havoc out of the lead-off spot for Huron.

She just didn't spend much time on the basepaths in doing so.

Litz blasted a pair of home runs and drove in a game-high four runs, backing Lady Tigers' pitcher Kyerstan Hammond, who scattered six hits, in Huron's 9-1 home win over Willard on Saturday.

It didn't take long for Litz and the Lady Tigers to strike, as she led off the bottom of the first with a home run, igniting a four-run inning that also included a two-run double from Hammond, who supported her own cause with two hits, three RBI and a pair of runs.

Lady Flashes' pitcher, Taylor Chaffins shook off the tough first inning and blanked Huron on one hit over the next two innings.

She was one out away from making it three shut-out innings in a row, before Litz (who led all players with three hits), tagged a two-run homer for a 6-0 advantage. Willard committed three of their five errors in the fourth.

Morgan McDowell put the Lady Flashes on the board with a two-out, RBI-single in the fifth, but Hammond would yield only one more hit over Willard's final eight at-bats.

She struck out five, without issuing a walk.

Chaffins (0-1) hung in well after the first and allowed only three earned runs in her first complete game of the season. Huron did collect 12 hits, but Chaffins did not allow a walk, while striking out four.

Madie Secor, who made the transition defensively from centerfield to shortstop, collected a pair of hits, as did McDowell. Both girls ripped doubles off of Hammond.

Brandy Mizer, who shifted to center, added a single, while Janelle Brubaker also collected a single in the loss.

"We had a number of kids in different spots today and I thought they all stepped up and played well," said Coach Storts. "It's tough when teams come out and hit the ball as well as Huron did, up and down their line-up. They hit a couple of bombs today, and it was just one of those games where all you can do is tip your hat to them."

Storts spoke highly of the progress his Lady Flashes made just within a three-day span.

"A lot of the mistakes we've made early on in the season go back to our lack of quality time outside for practice," he said. "We had a great practice yesterday, and that was only the fourth time we've been able to be out on the field. While this score might not indicate it, we played much better today than we did on Thursday at Shelby."

Bailey Gadd had two hits and two RBI for Huron. Jenna Witter also tallied a pair of hits.

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