By Dan Woodlock
Times-Junction Sports Editor
The Lady Flashes’ bats finally broke out Friday night.
Or in Madie Secor’s case, way out.
The WHS shortstop capped her three-hit night with a towering home run to left in the sixth inning, as she and her teammates combined for 13 hits in a 7-2 victory over South Central at the Willard City Park.
Entering the night averaging just 6.3 hits and 3.7 runs per contest, Willard hit .406 as a team on this night (13-for-32), with eight different players collecting at least one base hit.
Emily Stephens, Addie Slone and Kathleen Schaaf joined Secor in the multi-hit category with two apiece.
“The girls came out really loose tonight,” said Willard Head Coach Curt Storts. “You could hear them laughing and giggling, and there was a point where I wondered if they might be ‘too’ loose. But as long as they could back it up with how they played, that was fine with me. The girls played their best game of the season.”
Secor led off the bottom of the first with a single that struck South Central pitcher, Sarah Oney. The Lady Trojans’ southpaw not only remained in the game, but she went the distance.
After Secor stole second, one of two swipes she had on the evening (boosting her to a team-high 16), she came around to score when Jena Adams reached on a two-out error for a 1-0 edge.
“Madie’s done well at putting the ball in play for us all season,” said Storts. “They haven’t always found the holes, so it was nice to see her have the night she did tonight.”
South Central (6-7) tied the game in the top of the second, when Skye Mills led off with a single, advanced on an error and a hit batter and scored on an RBI-single by Cara Evans.
From there, scoring opportunities became less prevalent for the Lady Trojans, as Stephens (4-4), making her eighth start, handcuffed South Central to the tune of four hits in their last 20 at-bats, after they opened with three in their first seven.
While she did not record a strikeout, Stephens also did not walk a batter and yielded just one earned run on an RBI-double by Sierra Hiltbrunner in the sixth. Desiree Chill, who finished with two of South Central’s seven hits, scored on the play.
“Over these last four games, Emily has been outstanding,” said Storts. “She has really been able to hit her spots of late. She will go in and out with her pitch location and has impeccable control.”
Infield singles by Slone and Elli White were followed by an RBI-ground out by Secor in the second for a 2-1 lead. That margin expanded to three (4-1) in the third on three consecutive hits.
Stephens led off with a single and scored on a double by Adams. Brandy Mizer then drilled an RBI-single to left.
Perhaps the biggest inning of the night came in the ensuing South Central half of the fourth, as Stephens induced three consecutive come-back ground balls to the pitcher’s circle to get out of the inning quickly.
“I’ve watched Emily field up the middle throughout her career,” said Storts. “She’s one of the best defensive pitchers around. I know when it’s hit back up the middle, 99 percent of the time, Emily’s going to go get it.”
After the Secor homer in the sixth, Emily Nedolast ripped a double into right-centerfield and raced in to score on Emily Stephens’ single. Mizer drove home Stephens two batters later on a ground out.
Oney struck out a pair and walked one, allowing only one earned run in the loss.
Norwalk 2, Willard 0
Emily Stephens pitched well enough to win, but Norwalk’s Kayla Appeman put the brakes on Willard’s offense, twirling a two-hit shut-out, striking out 12.
Stephens allowed seven hits in her complete game effort. She had one strikeout and intentionally walked Norwalk’s Bailey Thomas three times.
Kennedy Conney tallied a pair of hits and two RBI, while Courtney Pelham finished the game 3-for-4 for the Lady Truckers.Jena Adams and Kathleen Schaaf had the lone two hits for Willard. Madie Secor worked the only walk Appeman surrendered.