RACINE, Ohio — Early and often.
The Southern softball team scored the first 21 runs of the game Wednesday night en route to an easy 25-2 victory over visiting South Gallia in a Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division contest at Star Mill Park in Meigs County.
The Lady Tornadoes (1-1, 1-0 TVC Hocking) mustered only 10 hits in their first victory of the 2017 campaign, but the hosts also benefited from seven SGHS errors and 14 walks while rolling to the 23-run mercy-rule outcome.
The Lady Rebels (0-2, 0-1), on the other hand, made the most of limited opportunities as the Red and Gold scored a run in the fourth on an error and also netted a run in the fifth on a dropped third strike and a two-out error. The guests managed only one hit in the entire game.
The Purple and Gold, however, sent at least eight batters to the plate and scored at least four runs in each of their four innings at the plate. SHS scored six in the first, eight in the second, seven in the third and tacked on four more runs in the bottom of the fourth for a 25-1 edge through four complete.
Southern scored all but one run on walks in the bottom of the first, then Lauren Lavender produced a single that plated Sierra Cleland for a 6-0 contest through one complete.
The biggest blow of the game came in the bottom of the second as Southern — which led 10-0 at the time — received a grand slam homer over the left-centerfield fence from Paige VanMeter, capping an eight-run inning that resulted in a 14-0 cushion through two full frames.
SHS tacked on another seven runs in the third for a 21-0 lead, but Olivia Hornsby singled to start the fourth and was called out on a fielder’s choice at second — which allowed Jessica Luther to reach safely. Luther stole two bases and scored on an error to make it a 21-1 contest.
The Lady Tornadoes added another four runs in the bottom half of the fourth for a 25-1 advantage, Sydney St. Clair reached safely on a dropped third strike and eventually scored on an error to wrap up the 25-2 finale.
Sydney Cleland was the winning pitcher of record after allowing two runs and one hit over five innings while striking out eight. Keirsten Howell took the loss after allowing 14 runs, four hits and 10 walks over two innings while striking out one.
VanMeter and Sydney Cleland led the hosts with three hits apiece, followed by Lavender with two safeties. Josie Cundiff and Sierra Clelland also had a hit apiece for the victors.
VanMeter drove in a team-best seven RBIs and also scored four times, while Lavender and Cundiff also scored four runs each. Lavender also knocked in three RBIs, followed by Cundiff, Sydney Cleland, Jaiden Roberts and Shelbi Dailey with two RBIs apiece.
Southern returns to action Thursday when it hosts Miller in a TVC Hocking contest at 5 p.m. The Lady Rebels welcome Ironton Saint Joseph on Friday at 5 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.