By REID TUCKER
With an overwhelming defeat to Bozeman in the softball season opener still ringing in their ears, the Walton Lady Braves poured on the runs to beat Rocky Bayou 13-9.
Walton (1-1, with one reschedule from Paxton) met Rocky Bayou (0-1) on Tuesday, Feb. 22, in a home contest that saw both sides do well on offense while struggling when it came to fielding the ball. The Lady Braves had 14 hits but incurred four errors in the process, while the Knights turned in 11 hits. The pitching of both sides was also a mixed bag, though Walton’s Comille Cosson had only four strikeouts but just two walks, compared to Rocky Bayou’s Samantha Holcomb (a seventh-grader), who had three strikeouts but twice that number of walks.
Rocky Bayou head coach Lynn Holcomb said the Knights’ performance on offense was to be commended and said the game, while a loss for the team, represented a good showing considering the young age of her players in their first game of the season.
“A lot of good things happened and a lot of bad things happened,” Holcomb said. “Offensively I’m very pleased…defensively it was not as good, but I’ll take nine runs any day. I don’t think too many of our runs were unearned and I think most of theirs were. I have a lot of new players this year and every game I’m expecting them to grow and get better. For some girls on my team, this was their first-ever fast pitch game.”
Walton jumped to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning, after Shelbie Standland popped on over the head of Rocky’s first and second basemen, driving in Kristian Ealum in the process. It took two outs to do it, but the Lady Braves loaded the bases two batters later but they were stopped when Rocky Bayou’s shortstop picked off a line drive to close the inning.
The Knights scored four runs in the third inning despite having their first batter struck out by Cosson. On the next at-bat, Raven Motley committed the first of the Lady Braves’ four errors by letting the hit from Rocky’s Katie Kaim shoot past her.
Brittany Tiller was hit in the helmet, loading up the bases, and then Rachel Mosely crushed a shot over Walton’s infielders’ heads to tie it up. Hannah Peters found the same gap to bring in two more runs, giving Rocky Bayou a 4-2 lead, but a further attempt to score was cut short (even as Mariah Colvin hit the same spot) as Hannah Barber struck out to close the inning.
Each team made short work of the other’s batters in a scoreless third inning but Walton tied it up in the bottom of the fourth as Cosson made a double of a smash to the center field fence, getting an RBI. Gillian Infinger, next up to bat, was thrown out at first but enabled Motley to make it home, putting the Braves up 5-4. Theresa Herndon got another RBI and Ealum sailed a hit to the left field wall to bring in two more runs, allowing Walton to run the score up 8-4 before Standland was struck out to close the inning.
Rocky Bayou added another three runs in the next inning to come within one of the Lady Braves, but they scored four more times in their next at-bat when Herndon hit deep center to bring herself home, accompanied by three other runners to make it 12-9. Rocky’s last real shot to reclaim the lead came in the top of the sixth and the Knights made a good go of it, pulling in base hit after base hit to load the bases and allowing Kaim and Brittany Tiller to add a pair of runs to the total. However, Walton’s Kaylyn Douglass made an easy out at first to halt the Knights’ comeback run.
Walton scored just one more run in the final inning when Cosson stole home while Infinger went down swinging. The Lady Braves did a routine three-up-three-down on Rocky Bayou’s batters in the top of the seventh by turning a quick double play at first and second and catching a pop up in foul territory to end the game 13-9 in favor the home team.
In spite of a few somewhat sketchy moments with simple mistakes, Walton coach Stan Bosenberg said the Lady Braves played much better than they did against Bozeman, when they suffered a bitter 14-4 loss in the season opener. Bosenberg said the need to smooth out some rough spots wasn’t entirely unexpected considering he, like Holcomb, has a young team to work with: Walton’s starting lineup consists of five freshmen and just one senior.
“We’ve got some young talent coming but we’ve got to eliminate errors and we’ve just got to work on hitting the ball,” Bosenberg said. “The main thing is to get more mentally focused. I think a lot of our girls turn into spectators out there instead of players. It’s easy to get caught up in that mess if you’re not on your toes.”
Walton visited Bay High School on Thursday, Feb. 24, and was defeated 5-0. Before this most recent win, Bay had never beaten Walton until last year, and that “victory” was actually one of the two times when the Lady Braves were forced to forfeit due to not being able to field a full team.