“Despite losing both games I actually think that we played pretty well,” said River coach Steve Austin. “We are extremely disappointed in how we hit the ball but we have to give credit to the pitchers we faced, especially the Courtney kid from St. Margaret’s. She was tough.”
The Knights gave up an unearned run to the St. Margaret’s Scotties in the first inning and fell 1-0 in the 9 a.m. opener. Pitcher Autumn Courtney struck out 13 batters and held the Knights to three hits and two walks, never allowing more than one base runner in an inning. Lacey Lucado had a double, a walk, and a stolen base while Lakota Lucado and Josey Lackey had singles for River.
Knights sophomore pitcher Ainsley Simmons pitched brilliantly for her squad scattering seven hits with seven strikeouts and only one walk.
Playing back-to-back, James River took on Amanda Clearcreek High School from Amanda, Ohio at 11 a.m. The Knight bats woke up right away and the local team jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Cameron Hildebrand tripled and Lakota Lucado walked before a Lacey Lucado double and Evie Melvin and Erin Peery ground outs resulted in RBIs.
Unfortunately for the Knights, they would not score again and the Aces rallied for two runs each in the third and fourth innings to take the lead. An additional run in the sixth added insurance as the Ohio squad held on to win 5-3. The Knights brought the potential tying run to the plate in the last two innings but were stymied by outstanding defensive plays by the Aces that shut the door.
Lacey Lucado once again paced her squad with an RBI double, a walk, a hit by pitch, and a run scored. Lackey had a single and walk at the plate and picked off a base runner from her catcher position.
Simmons pitched the entire second game as well, spreading out 11 hits but still striking out five with only two walks. Despite tiring, she worked out of jams and gave her team a chance to win.
“You know going into the games that these teams don’t travel multiple hours to play in this tournament if they don’t have pretty good ball clubs,” said Austin. “We knew we had to play really solid to win and we just didn’t hit well enough.”
James River lost for the second and third straight times with the close losses and fell to 3-4 on the season. They were rained out of a game at Parry McCluer on Monday and were scheduled to host Giles on Tuesday. The final game before spring break will be Friday at Alleghany.
“Given the caliber of our schedule we need to figure out how to win some of these close games or this season is going to get away from us,” said Austin.