SETH — With a trip to the state softball tournament secured for a third year in a row after a 7-0 win over Wahama last Wednesday, Sherman High's softball team has been here before, but coach Jim Henderson said he thinks this season is somewhat different than the others.
"We set a goal at the beginning of the year and I talked to the girls about a goal," Henderson said. "I told them that I had a goal and I hope that you have the same goal I do. In 2014, we finished fourth. In 2017 we finish as the runner-up. In 2018 we finish third. That just leaves one spot. That is what we want. We want to be No. 1."
Henderson said his team is capable.
"We have the team to do that," he said. "We have to take care of our opportunity. The first half of the season, I wasn't sure how good we were. As we stand here today we have 30 wins and we must be doing something right and we play a very tough schedule."
For the game, the tone was set in the first inning when Lady Tide pitcher Autumn Thompson mashed a game-opening home run. Henderson said it was crucial.
"It established an attitude early in the game that we weren't going to get beat today and we were here to fight," he said. "She set the tone with that statement."
Thompson was then intentionally walked twice in the game.
There were many heroes in the contest. Haylee Clendenin continued her timely hitting with a triple and a pair of RBIs.
Hailea Skeens, a magnificent frosh, mashed a double and scored a run, Chelsea Thompson and Katlyn Jenkins scored runs, Sydnee Ferrell executed a textbook sacrifice fly and Cloey Toney had one of her best games of the year as she went 3-for-3 and scored two runs.
All Thompson did on the mound is what she has done for three years as a starter. She gave up no runs on four hits and fanned eight batters in the process.
Henderson's prized hurler did hit two batters in succession but Henderson noted that Lady Falcon batters were crowding the plate in their approach and Thompson's breaking pitches were especially potent on this evening.
Sherman had 11 hits and no errors in the game.
With the win to advance, Sherman Tide is scheduled to face Wheeling Central (13-7) at 9:45 a.m. on Wednesday at Jackson Memorial Park in Vienna. The Lady Knights have won three-straight Class A titles going into the 2019 tournament, including the 2017 tilt with Sherman.
The other Class A first-round state tournament game has Clay-Battelle (25-2) taking on Greenbrier West (21-5), 30 minutes after the Sherman/Wheeling Central game.
The double elimination tourney is slated to conclude on Thursday with the state championship game.
Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at email@example.com or follow him @philipdperry on Twitter.