By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
COLD SPRINGS —
Patrick West felt his Cold Springs softball squad was better than Oakman when the area foes faced off earlier this month. Unfortunately for the coach, he just didn’t have a win to show for it following a low-scoring, eight-inning affair.
With that loss still fresh on their minds, the Eagles came prepared to play for revenge in the rematch at home on Thursday. After seven innings of solid hitting and superb defense, it was safe to say they got the revenge they were looking for — and then some — in the form of an 8-1 blowout of visiting Oakman.
“We needed it bad,” West said of his team, which improved to 6-3-1 overall and 1-1 in area play. “If you can’t win your area games, you can’t make the playoffs. We put a lot of pressure on them this week for this one game.”
Instead of caving into that pressure, Cold Springs appeared to relish it, jumping out to a commanding lead in the first inning. The Eagles batted around and scored five runs before the Wildcats were finally able to string together three outs.
McKinnley Davis led off with a walk, and Haley Freeman followed with a single to set up a two-run hit by Taylor Payne. Hanna Wilson proceeded to knock in Payne the very next at-bat with a short dribbler that hugged the third-base line.
Following a walk to senior Hayden West and a passed ball that advanced Wilson and West to second and third, Rebekah Calvert knocked in the duo with a sharp single past the first baseman, giving Cold Springs a comfortable cushion it managed to hold the rest of the ballgame.
“I think we were on cruise control after that first inning,” Coach West said. “We always want to put the pressure on them and try to get ahead.”
Calvert drove in another run in the third inning and racked up her fourth and final RBI with a groundout in the fifth. Keegan Johnson joined in the fun one batter later with an RBI groundout of her own to cap off the Eagles’ offensive outburst.
Freeman led the way with three hits, while Calvert, White, Wilson and Hayden West each contributed two. Payne pitched in the one hit, and McKinnley was good for one run.
One of West’s knocks was a double, and White nearly ended the contest in the sixth inning, smashing a towering shot off the left-center field fence that would’ve given Cold Springs the 10-run lead it needed to mercy the Wildcats.
“We hit the ball today. That was key,” Coach West said. “We had 12 hits and no strikeouts. That’s unheard of, no strikeouts, for this team. We had good at-bats. We’ve been trying to be more aggressive, not just our stance, but everything, and I think we were today.”
White didn’t miss a beat in her first outing since striking out 17 in 11 innings for three shutout wins at Good Hope’s Umpire’s Tournament on Tuesday. The freshman phenom allowed just four hits and two walks, while striking out three to notch yet another victory.
White pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning and didn’t allow Oakman to score until a bloop hit to shallow center field pushed through a run with two outs in the final frame.
The Eagle defense was spectacular behind White, highlighted by gems from two different players. Payne ended the first inning by throwing out a Wildcat attempting to steal second, and Bailie West started the following frame by snaring a hard-hit grounder at second base before completing the play with a spot-on throw to first.
“Our defense has played well,” Coach West said. “We haven’t had bad games, but we’ve had bad innings, where we make two errors in one inning. But today, I’m tickled to death. I sure am.”
Cold Springs will head to county-rival West Point next Tuesday.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.