TURBOTVILLE — The Warrior Run softball team had to weather a lot in Tuesday’s Heartland-III contest against Bloomsburg.
First, the Defenders had to overcome a solid start by the Panthers and then an inning stifling double play kept Warrior Run from taking a lead. In addition, the Defenders were afflicted by some lackadaisical play on both offense and defense and then there was, well, the weather.
Despite all of that adversity, Warrior Run only trailed by a run going into the sixth inning. That is until freshman Valandra McHenry stepped to the plate.
McHenry slammed a three-run home run over the left-center field fence to give the hosts the lead and a 5-3 victory over Bloomsburg at Warrior Run High School.
Following the contest, Warrior Run coach Garth Watson had a good, long talk with his girls. Even though the Defenders won, there was a lot that needs to be improved upon before the next game.
“We lost a little focus today. We hit some lazy ground balls and some lazy pop flies, and you can’t do that against a good team like Bloomsburg,” said Watson. “We knew coming in we were going to get their best effort, and we did.
“The ball was wet, and Madi Waltman still threw a good game and we had good defense (behind her),” added Watson.
Warrior Run (8-1, 5-1 HAC-III) trailed 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth, but with one out the Defenders had Jade Swartz reach base on an error and Amber Pentycofe get a single to set the stage for McHenry, who hit her first career home run to give the Defenders the victory once Waltman got Bloomsburg out in the top of the seventh.
“I really wasn’t thinking about (hitting a home run), I just did what my coaches told me to do — relax and hit the ball,” said McHenry. “I wasn’t doing too good at first, and then I just brought my attitude back up.”
The homer more than made up for a throwing error McHenry had at short in the fifth that led to Bloomsburg taking a 3-2 lead.
“Our freshman shortstop (McHenry) — she fielded the ball and threw it away — and then she came up and basically won the game for us with a three-run home run. The homer was huge, and McHenry is a great kid,” said Watson.
“McHenry is No. 8 in our batting order, and we’ve been telling the girls that 1-9 we can hit for power, but we just have to execute. We’ll come back out here (today) and we’ll work on some things that need to be done. I basically told the girls, ‘we’re not playing sharp as a tack right now and we’re 8-1. Once we start hitting the ball again, we’ll be fine.’”
Bloomsburg got just one earned run (on an RBI fielder’s choice by Lexy Kreisher in the fourth), and unearned runs in the first and fifth, while Warrior Run’s Hannah Michael scored on a wild pitch in the first and Lauren Watson scored on a passed ball in the fourth.
In between, Waltman threw a complete game and had 15 strikeouts for the Defenders. Though she did hit four batters due to the rainy conditions during the game.
“Madi adapted to the weather and overcame it. She’s tough, and she’ll give you her best effort every day,” said Watson. “I thought she hit her spots well today, and she mixed her pitches and moved the ball around. Bloomsburg has a potent lineup, and they are definitely up there as far as some of the best competition. They’re tough.”
Warrior Run next plays at Southern Columbia at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
Warrior Run 5, Bloomsburg 3
at Warrior Run
Bloomsburg1001100 — 3-5-1
Warrior Run100103x — 5-4-2
E. Hull, Kendra Loff (4) and Lily Yablonski. Madi Waltman and Jade Swartz.
WP: Waltman. LP: Loff.
Bloomsburg hitters: Rita Nuss, 3-for-4, double, RBI, 2 runs scored; Ashley Rostucher, single, RBI; Lexy Kreisher, RBI.
Warrior Run hitters: Hannah Michael, run scored; Gracy Beachel, 2-for-3; Lauren Watson, walk, run; Swartz, walk, run; Amber Pentycofe, single, run; Valandra McHenry, 2-for-3, HR (6th, 2 on), 3 RBI.