\River catcher Josey Lackey makes the tag at the plate.
Photo by Brian Hoffman

The James River softball team headed into spring break with a 6-1 record after three big wins last week. The Knights sandwiched a win over previously undefeated Parry McCluer between Conference 38 wins over Giles and Glenvar.

Last Friday on a blustery day at Glenvar the Knights banged out 15 hits in an 11-1 win over the Highlanders. Olivia Simmons was strong on the mound and led the hitting parade for the visitors with four hits and four RBIs. Two of her hits were doubles.

Lakota Lucado had three hits, two RBIs, and three runs scored. Erin Peery had three hits and Rachel Kickuth scored three runs. Josey Lackey, Hollie Hill, Evie Melvin, Sara Faust and Kickuth all had one hit.

Simmons pitched a complete game, striking out seven, walking five, and limiting the Highlanders to three hits.

Kaley Williams singled in a run in the fourth for Glenvar when the Knights worked out of a bases-loaded, no-outs jam. Emily Teaford had a fifth inning double and McKenna Jarvis had a sixth inning single.

“It was a tough day to play softball,” said River coach Steve Austin. “Olivia walked the bases full in the fourth and when I went out to visit after six straight balls, she said that she couldn’t feel her fingers.”

On Wednesday of last week, River used a strong pitching performance by Simmons and clutch hitting to earn a 4-3 road victory over Parry McCluer in Buena Vista. The two-time defending 1A state champion Blues lost for the first time this season but they did not go quietly.

The Knights jumped on top early with a two-out first inning rally. Lackey worked a walk, then Hill was hit by a pitch. After fouling off three pitches, Erin Peery lined a base hit to right center field scoring courtesy runner Brittany Crawford.

That early run held up until the fourth inning when Simmons walked lead off batter Carrington Balser on four pitches for her only free pass of the afternoon. Iesha Jackson then singled to center field putting runners on first and second. Simmons rallied to strike out clean up hitter Kelsi Martin at the end of a 12-pitch battle, but Allison Clark then singled in the tying run. A Knight throwing error led to two additional runs before Simmons struck out the two remaining hitters.

The Knights got even in the sixth inning when Sara Faust and Brenna Eubank got back-to-back one-out singles. After the second out, Lucado looped a single to left field, plating Faust. Simmons then lashed a double to right center that was momentarily misplayed. Eubank scored easily to tie the game, but Lucado was thrown out at the plate when she too was waved on.

After a nine pitch 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth, the Knights picked up where they left off when they batted in the top of the seventh. Lackey led off with a single and the cut off throw got away, allowing Lackey to continue all the way to third base. Hill then knocked in Lackey with an infield single with the eventual winning run.

Simmons struck out 12 batters with the one walk and limited the Blues to four hits. Blues pitcher Kelsi Martin allowed nine hits, including two each by Simmons and Lackey.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our team for their determined effort in this contest,” said Austin. “We had two starters who didn’t make the trip because of illness, but we always believed we could win, even when we fell behind in the fourth inning.”

Last Tuesday in Springwood, River beat Giles, 17-1, in a game that was postponed from a day prior due to inclement weather. Hollie Hill, Evie Melvin, and Josey Lackey had three hits apiece to lead a 15-hit attack.

“We were aggressive at the plate early but we hit good pitches,” said Austin. “We took the walk when their pitcher struggled and we attacked the ball if it was hittable.”

Olivia Simmons started on the mound for the Knights and struck out all six batters she faced. Kaitlin Simmons pitched the last three innings, allowing one run on three hits while striking out four and walking none.

“Kaitlin Simmons continues to progress as our backup pitcher,” said Austin. “She had a good outing in her longest varsity stint of three innings.”

The Knights are now off for spring break, returning Monday at Alleghany.