SOFTBALL: TWHS holds off Oak Ridge to remain unbeaten in district
OAK RIDGE NORTH - The Woodlands expected a battle against district rival Oak Ridge on Friday evening in a game that boasted high stakes and familiar foes.
After seeing an early 6-0 lead disappear, the Lady Highlanders got just that as they held on for a 7-6 victory over the Lady War Eagles to remain unbeaten in District 12-6A play this season.
The Woodlands (21-6, 7-0) led 7-1 in the top of the fifth inning, but Oak Ridge refused to go away and plated five unanswered runs to close the gap and apply the pressure.
The Lady War Eagles (16-7, 5-2) had a runner on third base with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning after a triple from Taylor Brandon. But relief pitcher Amanda Curran was able to finish off the win by inducing a pop up and a ground ball for the final two outs.
With the triumph, the Lady Highlanders continued to stand alone atop the league standings. They also completed the season sweep of Oak Ridge after also recording a 9-3 win earlier this year.
“It’s big for a lot of reasons,” The Woodlands coach Tim Borths said. “This is a rivalry that has developed particularly over the last few years with some tight ball games and some very good games. Obviously, remaining undefeated in district - we’re the only team they’ve lost to, and so being able to maintain that No. 1 spot was very important to our kids and to our program.”
The Woodlands jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning, thanks to an RBI double from Kelcy Leach and an RBI single from Amanda Curran.
After going down in order in the second, the Lady Highlanders got back on track in the third. The Woodlands tacked on run when Abby Jones sprinted home on a bunt by Skylar Stockton. Amanda Curran then cleared the bases with a three-run double to center field to make the score 6-0.
Oak Ridge got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the frame, as Rhian Journey crossed the plate on a double steal with teammate Kim Manuel simultaneously swiping second base.
It didn’t take too long for The Woodlands to get that run back, as Kelcy Leach blasted a solo home run over the left-field fence in the fifth to make it 7-1.
But Oak Ridge fought back, and in the bottom of the inning, the bats came alive. Cheyenne Cavanaugh and Autumn Sydlik delivered back-to-back two-run singles to pull their team within two runs at 7-5.
“I just told them to really zone in,” Oak Ridge coach Amanda Brimberry said. “I actually just told them, ‘Let’s get a runner on, let’s score. Let’s get a runner on, let’s score.’ They really zoned in on that small goal and they worked together as a team to get that goal done over and over again, and I think that was key. They weren’t looking at the big lead they had, but just taking it one pitch at a time.”
The Lady War Eagles looked poised the tie the game or even take the lead in the sixth, loading the bases with one out. But Langkamp came through in the clutch and induced a ground ball and pop up to get out the jam unscathed.
Cavanaugh led off the seventh with a triple, knocking The Woodlands starter Emily Langkamp out of the game. She then came home on a shallow sacrifice fly from Sydlik, but that’s all Oak Ridge could muster.
Langkamp went six innings for The Woodlands, allowing five earned runs. She struck out six batters while only walking one. Oak Ridge reliever Taylor Brandon surrendered just three hits and one earned run in four innings of work.
Alayis Seneca had a standout performance for the Lady Highlanders at the plate, finishing 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored. Current went 2-for-4 with four RBIs, and Leach also had two hits. Cavanaugh and Kim Manuel each had two hits, and Sydlik finished with three RBIs.
The Woodlands will be back in action at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday as it hosts Conroe. Oak Ridge, meanwhile, will travel to College Park for its next game at the same time.