Wirt County wallops Yellowjackets, 9-2

WILLIAMSTOWN – Winning pitcher Jessi Lockhart set the tone for the game by belting a solo homer to lead off the top of the first inning, then twirled a six-hitter on the mound with nine strikeouts and no walks as visiting Wirt County drubbed Williamstown 9-2 in five innings Thursday afternoon.

The win boosted the Tigers’ record to 5-2, while the host Yellowjackets fell to 4-5 with the setback.

Lockhart, a junior, socked a homer as fans were still just settling in, belting the softball over the left-center field fence to give Wirt a good start. But things got even better quickly for the Tigers, who proceeded to tally another three runs before Williamstown ever came to the plate.

Mady Hardbarger followed Lockhart’s solo shot with a walk, and back-to-back singles by Skylar Bogan and Katie Tichnell made it 2-0. Then after two outs, Kayla Randolph’s single plated run No. 3 of the inning and a wild pitch let yet another run score to finish the first frame with a big 4-spot on the scoreboard.

The ‘Jackets got two on in the bottom of the first, but to no avail. Lockhart fanned the side in the second and after Wirt tacked on a run in the third on Caitlin Cottrell’s RBI single, Lockhart wriggled out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the third.

Singles off the bats of Kayla Masters and Nellie King and an error filled the sacks for Williamstown. But Lockhart chalked up a ‘K,’ then got Kayla Scott out on a liner to Randolph at first base to stifle the threat.

A run came home for the Tigers in the fourth on an error and Wirt took advantage of two more Williamstown miscues in the fifth to push the margin to 9-0.

The hosts, though, finally got on the board in the last of the fifth as with two outs, a King single, double from Courtney Dotson and finally Kylie Powell’s two-run single made it a 9-2 game before a putout at first base ended not only the inning, but also the game as well.

“Jessi (Lockhart) has pretty much pitched like today most of the year,” said Wirt head coach Aaron Hill. “This is really her first full year being in the circle. She’s just taken off with it and has done great through all seven games now.”

Plus, Hill added that “you couldn’t get started off any better than a leadoff homer. That was a big shot and contagious too, as it got everybody else going right off the bat.”

“Wirt got going early and did a good job,” said Williamstown head coach Kayla Stanley. “Our pitcher (Nellie King) is tired, and she’s hurting, She tried to tough it out as best she could.

“Leaving people on base has been happening a lot for us this year. That’s one of our goals to have our left-on-base runners become smaller and smaller each game.”