MADISON — Orange County softball coach Neal Ferguson said his team wasn’t able to come up with key hits in a 2-1 loss to Louisa County earlier this week.
Maci Fayard, Ja’chelle Mosley and the rest of the Hornets’ lineup got back on track Friday night as they cruised to a 13-2 road victory over Madison County in five innings in another big rivalry game.
Fayard and Mosley combined for five hits, nine RBI and six runs scored to lead Orange to its first victory of the season. Mosley said some extra work in the batting cage this week paid off for the Hornets in Friday’s win.
“We needed some mental adjustments and physical adjustments [against Louisa],” she said. “We underestimated the pitcher when we came into the game. During each at-bat, we were so close and we just had to do some small changes to fix those at bats. In this game, we hit really well.”
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Orange County (1-1) got things going early with a run in the top of the first inning thanks to some great situational hitting.
Adlee Shumake singled with one out, then stole second to move into scoring position. Two batters later, Mosley hammered a grounder through the right side of the infield to score Shumate and give the Hornets a 1-0 lead.
Madison County pitcher Meaghan Dean did a great job limiting the damage following the first run. After giving up another hit, the senior struck out the next batter to strand two Orange runners and keep it a one-run game.
The Hornets’ production continued in the second inning when Fayard came through with a clutch hit. After Orange loaded the bases with two outs, Fayard stepped to the plate and hammered an 0-1 fastball over the left field fence for a grand slam that gave OCHS a 5-0 lead.
“She was pitching me a lot of outside pitches, which is not really what I thrive off of,” Fayard said. “I saw the inside pitch come in and just went for it and it went out of the park.”
The stellar hitting continued in the third as Orange County kept coming up with key hits with runners in scoring position. Jordan Burley hammered a fastball up the middle to score courtesy runner Alivia Sliger to give the Hornets a 6-0 lead.
While the Orange offense was humming, Hornets ace Hannah Hearl was just as dominant in the circle. The junior struck out seven of the first nine batters she faced. She also got plenty of help from her defense, including a beautiful diving catch from Ayla Fincham to end the third inning.
Th Orange bats struck again in the fourth when Fayard doubled to the fence with one out to put runners on second and third. Mosley then drilled a fastball that went well over the centerfield wall for a three-run blast and a 9-0 Hornets lead.
“My mentality when I’m at bat is just try to hit the ball as hard as I can,” Mosley said. “I was fighting and trying to hit that ball so hard and when I hit it, the whole atmosphere went crazy.”
Later in the inning, Lauren Fincham hit a seeing-eyed singled to center to score another run. Burley then scored on an error to stretch the Orange lead to 11-0.
Madison County (0-2) came to life in the bottom of the inning thanks to some big hits from the top of the order. Breanna McPeak led off the inning with a double to break up Hearl’s no-hitter. After a walk, Aliyah Aylor lined a single down the third-base line to score McPeak for the Mountaineers’ first run of the game.
Kendall Soulsby then reached on an infield single to score courtesy runner Isabelle Dietrich to make it an 11-2 game.
Orange got the runs back in the fifth inning. Mosley drove in her fourth run of the game to score Shumake, then Hearl doubled to the wall in left field to score Fayard for a 13-2 lead.
Hearl allowed two earned runs on three hits and struck out 10 in four strong innings of work for Orange County. Reliever Kara Fincham fanned two of the three batters she faced in the fifth inning to preserve the win.
Burley went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI for the Hornets. Shumate also added two hits and scored a game-high four times.
Fayard credits her team’s two-out hitting for Friday’s win.
“It’s very important,” she said, “considering when you have people on base and its two outs, you need to have a big at-bat to score those runs, and get them in and not leave them on base.”