Archive for Thursday, April 6, 2006

A near-perfect start

20 runs, a 13-strikeout effort and a no-hitter highlight opening sweep

April 6, 2006

If not for a nasty bruise on his shin, Tuesday would have been completely perfect for Lansing High softball coach Terry Cornett.

Cornett had spent the entire winter and the first few weeks of spring practice anxiously waiting to see what his young squad could do. Practices had been energetic. The players - even those who'd made sacrifices and switched positions - had handled their jobs nobly. Team chemistry was good. All they needed was an opponent to play.

First up on the schedule was Atchison on Tuesday, and Lansing wowed Cornett in its first outing of the season as it swept a doubleheader with a pair of 10-0 victories.

Everything went right for Lansing - with one slight exception.

During a fourth-inning at-bat, senior Dana Sanders crushed a line-drive foul that smashed into Cornett's right shin. The game was halted for about two minutes as Cornett tried to walk it off. Later the coach would joke with parents that "Old age finally caught up with me!"

Said a laughing Sanders: "I felt bad about that. I didn't mean to do it."

Although visibly shaken up from taking out her coach, Sanders shook it off and smacked the next pitch down the left field line for a double. It was her fourth of five hits on the day.

"She hit the ball with authority. Don't I know it," Cornett joked after the game.

But it's debatable if Sanders' hitting sizzled more than her pitching Tuesday. After all, she threw a no-hitter in the first game as she struck out seven with no walks.

"It's a great way to open up," Sanders said. "I've always pitched the second game, so it's nice to be able to come out here the first game and do that."

Two highlight-reel catches by senior center fielder Nicole Holland in the first inning staved off Atchison's best rips of the day. Sanders also received plenty of offensive support as LHS plated six runs in the first inning.

Holland opened the first inning with a single. She advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Amanda Darrow and later scored on a triple to the fence by senior catcher Nichole Twitchel. Sophomore Morgan Chiles was hit by a pitch. Sanders ripped a single that scored Twitchel. Chiles and Sanders scored on a base hit by freshman Brittney Lang. Sophomore Jasmine Holland walked. Then two more runs scored on a single by senior second baseman Kasey Denney. With that, the rout was on.

Lang finished the game 3-for-3 at the plate and Sanders had two hits.

"I was pleased with the hitting the first game," Cornett said. "Some of our girls stepped up."

The hot bats continued in game two. Chiles opened the second inning with a ground-rule double and later scored on a single from Sanders. LHS plated three more runs in the fourth inning as Twitchel, senior Jessica Stark and Sanders all smashed doubles and sophomore Sara Logan ripped a run-scoring single up the middle. The Lions plated five more runs in the fifth and one in the sixth to complete the run-rule spread.

Although Cornett was pleased with the 14 hits his squad piled up in game two, he was most pleased with the pitching debut of Lang. In her first outing of the season, the 5-foot-9 freshman struck out 13 batters and allowed just three hits. She even worked out of a jam in the fourth inning when Atchison had the bases loaded with one out.

"I knew that she could throw with some authority and had some pitches, but to come out in her first game and strike out 13 :" Cornett said. "I think she's got ice in her veins. There's no doubt in my mind."

From the top of the lineup to the bottom, Cornett said he was proud of the way all of his players performed in their first outing of the season. Now they'll try to do it again at 4:30 p.m. today when they take on Mill Valley at Shawnee 3&2, 8000 Monticello Rd.

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