VIENNA, W.Va. — Sherman’s Autumn Thompson picked up where she left off Wednesday evening at Jackson Memorial Park.
After throwing seven strong innings and adding a pair of hits and runs to key her team to an 8-1 win against Wheeling Central in the morning, Thompson was even more imperative to the Tide’s success against Clay-Battelle.
Thompson held the Cee-Bees to three hits over another stellar seven-inning effort, and finished 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles and three runs to lead the Tide to a 7-0 victory.
“We start and end with her. If she’s hitting the ball and pitching on top of her game, it’s tough for anybody to beat us,” Sherman coach Jim Henderson said. “We go as she goes and if she can get us the start that she has in both games up here, it takes some nerves away.”
With the win, Sherman is in the driver’s seat of Class A and needs just one more win to claim a state championship.
Clay-Battelle (26-3) will clash with Wheeling Central at 9 a.m. Thursday in an elimination game. The winner will then have to defeat the Tide (32-4) twice.
“We battled there and that’s a very good and experienced club,” C-B coach Butch Varner said. “I told my girls we’ll go home and get something to eat, take a bath and go to bed. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow with Wheeling Central.”
Thompson got started early against Clay-Battelle starting pitcher Sydney Wilson, belting a double to left and eventually scoring the game’s first run on a wild pitch.
Amber Maloskey reached on a two-out error in the second that allowed Chelsea Thompson to score and Sherman to double its lead.
“The girls hung in there and did exactly what we asked them to do in order to get a few runs on the board,” Henderson said. “Early in the game it wasn’t always the prettiest and we weren’t always coming through.
“We tried to emphasize to the girls to just make contact. We realized with our speed that if we could hit the ball on the ground, we’d make them have to make the perfect throw and everybody would have to move well.”
Caitlyn Kassay, who pitched all nine innings of the Cee-Bees’ 2-1 win over Greenbrier West earlier Wednesday, took over in the pitching circle to start the third. Kassay struck out three straight batters with runners on second and third to provide her team with a much-needed spark, but the Cee-Bees left two runners on in the home half of the third.
Kassay struck out the side again in the fourth, but the Clay-Battelle bats were unable to get anything going against Thompson.
Thompson singled in the fifth and scored her team’s third run on a Katlyn Jenkins double to left.
Kassay and Wilson had back-to-back one-out singles in the sixth, but Thompson retired the next two batters to keep the Cee-Bees off the board.
“We had runners in scoring position a couple times with the meat of our lineup up, and that’s a credit to their pitcher and team,” Varner said. “They bore down and took that opportunity from us.”
Sherman put the game out of reach with a four-run seventh.
Thompson had another double before scoring on an error, while Haylee Clendenin scored on a wild pitch.
Later in the seventh, Chelsea Thompson grounded out to second to bring home McKenzie Dickens and Sydnee Ferrell singled to left to plate Jada Samuel.
Autumn Thompson struck out four and issued only one walk in the victory.
Wilson suffered the loss after allowing two runs in two innings. Kassay struck out 10 in five innings, but allowed five runs on six hits.
“My girls were mentally prepared,” Varner said. “Sometimes it just means a lot to have the experience that Sherman has being here at the state tournament. This is the first time for my kids trying to figure it out here.”
WHEELING CENTRAL 9, Greenbrier West 3: The Maroon Knights played like a team that wasn’t ready to go home, while the Cavaliers couldn’t bounce back from an extra-inning loss to Clay-Battelle earlier in the day.
Wheeling Central (14-8) started the game with three straight singles and took a 2-0 first-inning lead courtesy of Jaden Thomas’ sacrifice fly and Jairika Baylor scoring on a passed ball.
Peyton Knight and Jessica Miller added RBI singles for the defending state champions in the third, helping Central up its lead to 4-0.
The Cavaliers (21-7) hurt their cause with three errors in the sixth, which combined with a Maddy LeMasters two-run double enabled the Maroon Knights to hold an 8-0 lead.
Greenbrier West produced four hits in the bottom of the sixth to score three times and extend the game, but that was as close as the Cavaliers got.