Woodland allowed 11 runs apiece in a pair of losses Saturday, but the Wildcats' pitching returned to form Tuesday, shutting out visiting Cartersville in both games of a Region 7-AAAAA doubleheader …
Woodland allowed 11 runs apiece in a pair of losses Saturday, but the Wildcats' pitching returned to form Tuesday, shutting out visiting Cartersville in both games of a Region 7-AAAAA doubleheader sweep.
Junior sensation Lainey Baker threw 10 of the innings. Baker went the distance in a 4-0 victory in Game 1, striking out 10 against just four hits and one walk. In the nightcap, the right-hander followed up four solid frames from Cassie Jones with three nearly flawless innings in a 5-0 win.
Baker mostly breezed through the opening game. Campbell Rogers broke up a perfect game in the top of the fourth with a single, and the Canes put multiple runners on base in the fifth and seventh innings but Baker always escaped unscathed.
In Game 2, Jones looked like she might be in trouble early, as Cartersville's first two hitters — Rogers and Mikey Lewis — reached on base hits. But a line-drive double play helped the junior get out of trouble. From there, she gave up just two other hits, while striking out one with no walks.
Baker only recorded a single strikeout over her three innings, but all the Canes (3-13, 1-6) managed during the span was another single from Lewis.
"Baker overpowered us," Shannon Suarez texted after the game. "We got in bad counts early, were constantly hitting from behind. We weren’t able to break her rhythm and produce any offense."
To Cartersville's credit, the Canes pitchers did about everything they could to keep their team within striking distance. Not until the top of the seventh inning of Game 2 was Cartersville in a scenario where a grand slam wouldn't have at least tied the game.
Matched up against Baker in Game 1, McKinley Chada gave up two unearned runs in the third and two earned runs in the fifth. Overall, Woodland held a slight 6-4 edge in hits, with Chada supplying half of Cartersville's knocks.
The Wildcats (10-4, 6-1) got off to a fast start in Game 2, scoring four runs in the first inning off starter Kiley Arnold. Chada closed out the frame to keep the game close, and Amelia Elrod pitched five solid innings the rest of the way, with only an unearned run allowed.
"McKinley Chada and and Amelia Elrod kept us in both games," Suarez said. "They both were able to work out of jams on multiple occasions and keep us in a position to either tie or take a lead if we could string a few hits together. I'm proud of both their performances."
Michiah Hicks continued her impressive start to the season Tuesday. The junior went 2-for-3 with two RBIs in the opener. She finished 1-for-3 with a walk in the second game. Overall, she is slashing a ridiculous .511/.549/.617 through 14 games.
Hicks' lone hit in Game 2 was a key double as part of Woodland's explosive first inning, in which the first four Wildcats batters combined to hit for the cycle. Ansley Evans tripled, Morgan Cooper homered, Hicks doubled and Hannah Miller singled. Miller's hit drove in Hicks, and the senior later scored on Jessica Ryan's double for the quick 4-0 advantage.
Evans, Cooper and Miller — three of Woodland's four seniors — each finished with a pair of hits in Game 2. Kailey Baker, the team's other 12th-grader, got in on the act, too. Serving as the catcher for both games, the older Baker sister walked and had a sixth-inning RBI single.
Both teams are return to region action Thursday with single games on the road. Woodland will visit crosstown rival Cass after the pair split this season's doubleheader. Meanwhile, Cartersville will hope for some revenge against Calhoun, having been swept by the Yellow Jackets at home earlier this year.