May 21st, 2018

Valkyries end skid, advance to district final

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Conor Revell

Managing Editor


Valkyries end skid, advance to district final
Mollie McMillen hit an inside-the-park home run / photo by Conor Revell

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Sacred Heart’s softball team has had a rough season with numerous injuries and an unforgiving schedule.

The Valkyries ended a 13-game losing streak with a 15-0 three-inning victory over Waggener in a 27th District semifinal game Monday night at Atherton.

“It has been challenging for everybody – from the parents and coaches to the players,” Sacred Heart head coach Bob Wheatley said. “It has been a tough and humbling season. From where we started to where we are now not including the injuries, we’re not anywhere near where we thought we would be. But, injuries are out of are control. It is what it is.”

It’s Sacred Heart’s first win since beating Atherton 7-3 April 17th, their opponent in Tuesday’s district title game that is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m.

“We have been taking it one day at a time,” Sacred Heart senior third baseman Natalie Fichter said. “We try to learn from our mistakes, get over it, and go back out there. We know what we have to do to get better. We have to play our game and play the way we know how to play.”

Whoever wins the district title game will host a first-round Seventh Region Tournament game against a district runner-up next Monday at 11 a.m. while the loser will travel to a district champion and play at the same time.

“I would expect a good game,” Wheatley said. “We have had some great games with Atherton over the past four years and I expect tomorrow to be the same and a fun game. Atherton is respectful, their coaching staff is great, the players are great, they play hard and play the game the right way.

The Valkyries (5-16) scored six runs in the first inning, one in the second, and eight in the seventh to end the game.

“We have been trying to encourage each other,” Sacred Heart senior centerfielder Jessica Smith said. “I think we have done a great job of that with all the injuries we have had throughout the season. We have overcome it and played as a team, try to eliminate errors, and make the most of it.”

Mollie McMillen had a 2-run inside-the-park home run for Sacred Heart’s biggest hit of the day, making up for the strikeouts she had in her first two at bats.

“It’s hard to pick one leader on this team,” Wheatley said. “It has been a combo of everybody. The seniors are kind of quiet but they have taken ownership and have helped. We have seven seniors that have never played softball before. It has been a lot of learning and it’s different from what I’m used to since I coached college. It has been frustrating for everybody, not just me.”

Smith (2 for 3, RBI, two stolen bases), Fichter (1 for 1, RBI, and two stolen bases), Katie Black (2 for 2, RBI, two stolen bases), Lizzie Sexton (1 for 2), Audrey Lentz (2 for 3, RBI), and Erica Johnson (1 for 1) also had hits for the Valkyries.

Sacred Heart took advantage of the Wildcats fielding mistakes and scored four runs on wild pitches, stole home twice, scored two runs on two errors, and scored once on a passed ball.

“I think our effort, hustle, communication, and heart will be key tomorrow,” Smith said. “We’re going to have to talk with every ball that gets hit whether it’s in the outfield or infield. Communication is a must for tomorrow’s game.”

Lentz threw a no hitter for the Valkyries, struck out six, and walked one. The defense backed her up with their first error free game of the season.

“That has been one of our goals this season,” Fichter said. “That is to be error free. We hustled today because there were several balls that could have made it through the infield. That was in everyone mindset to do everything perfect. We really wanted to win this game.”

Kaylee Shipley pitched a complete game for Waggener (4-9) and allowed 15 runs, 10 hits, walked three, and struck out four.  

“This group is a fun to be around,” Wheatley said. “They give you what they can give you. They try hard. Their effort level is amazing. If they make a mistake, it’s not because they’re not progressing, our skill is not all that high yet.”

The Wildcats season ended with the loss.

 

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