After pitching 10 shutout innings across two Wednesday wins, Woodland ace Lainey Baker picked up where she left off Thursday. The Wildcats offense, though, took a few frames to return to form before …
After pitching 10 shutout innings across two Wednesday wins, Woodland ace Lainey Baker picked up where she left off Thursday. The Wildcats offense, though, took a few frames to return to form before run-ruling Hiram — 8-0 in five innings — at home.
Per usual, Woodland head coach Colman Roberts didn't have much to say about Baker's performance. The stats speak for themselves when the junior breezes through a lineup the way she did Thursday, striking out 12 of the 16 hitters she faced. Only a two-out single in the fourth inning kept her from a shortened perfect game.
However, Roberts did let his feelings be known about the offense's slow start to the evening.
"She was good tonight and last night, too," Roberts said of Baker, who struck out 17 in Wednesday's doubleheader sweep of Blessed Trinity. "... I was kind of disappointed in the start of the game hitting-wise. I don't believe in the velocity being down a little bit that we can't hit.
"We went one time through the order, and then kind of timed her up a little bit better. But I'm proud of them. Every region win, every region game is huge. We don't take anything for granted."
Woodland (6-2, 4-1 Region 7-AAAAA) recorded one-out doubles in each of the first two innings — one each from Morgan Cooper and Kailey Baker — but stranded the runners. The Wildcats finally broke through against the Hornets (1-5, 0-3) in the home half of the third.
Peyton Dorn singled, Ansley Evans doubled and Cooper reached on a fielder's choice to load the bases. Michiah Hicks followed with a long two-run single to open the scoring. As Hicks stole second base, Cooper scored from third on the throw for a 3-0 lead. Lainey Baker and Jessica Ryan added run-scoring singles later in the inning.
With one out in the fourth, Evans tripled and Cooper followed with a towering home run to straightaway center field. The seniors have recently been playing different positions to make up for the absence of Hannah Miller, with Evans sliding from shortstop to third base and Cooper coming in from center to play short.
While Roberts noted that Miller will be back playing third base as early as Saturday, he knows his team's versatility could be tested further down the road.
"She is actually committed to Columbus State University as a shortstop," Roberts said of Cooper. "We get Hannah Miller back Saturday, so we'll be regular then. They know you have to step up. When you have injuries and other things, you have to move on. Good teams move on."
With Lainey Baker having thrown just 60 pitches in five innings, she and her teammates made sure that she didn't have to exert herself further with four games scheduled this weekend.
Needing a single run to end things early, the Baker sisters drew back-to-back walks before Ryan dropped a single into shallow right field to load the bases. The game ended when Cassie Jones walked on four straight pitches to force home courtesy runner Cambrie Carrington for her second run of the evening.
Having completed a 3-0 week in region play, Roberts is shifting focus to the Buccaneer Bash tournament, but he did take time to acknowledge the significance of picking up another league win.
"Every region win, every region game is huge," Roberts said. "We don't take anything for granted."