Ending week strong, HVA blanks perennial 4-AAA power Maryville 9-0

HARDIN VALLEY — Starting things off with a diving catch of a sinking line drive by center fielder Abby Wilson, things only got better for this Hardin Valley Academy junior and her Lady Hawks softball team Friday evening, March 29, against perennial District 4-AAA power Maryville.

“She set the tone,” HVA head coach Whitney Hickam-Cruze said about Wilson after a dominating victory.

A pair of home runs plus an RBI double from Madi Lane, sophomore shortstop, plus a solo homer from junior catcher Leigha Gray was plenty of offense for winning pitcher Emalee McCord, a senior.

As one of two staff aces who is still building up her endurance following an ACL tear (knee) last summer, McCord fired 4 1/3 innings of shutout baseball — allowing just one hit, one walk and two hit batters with four strikeouts — then gave way to sophomore reliever Denver Hogrefe, who preserved a 9-0 shutout victory at HVA.

“I feel like we came out strong, more than usual,” said McCord, whose team improved to 8-3 overall, 4-0 in 4-AAA. “I think I did pretty good (pitching).”

However, entering the fifth inning, “I started to let down a little bit, I got a little bit tired,” she added. “But Denver came in, and she was strong in relief.”

Hogrefe allowed just one baserunner, a single, to go with four strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings.

McCord also helped her cause offensively, as the No. 3 hitter in the HVA line-up, with two singles and a run scored by pinch-runner Caroline Jacokes, a junior.

As for having the biggest bang offensively, “I’ve never had a two-home-run game, ever, on any level,” said Lane, whose three extra-base hits produced four RBI.

“We came ready to play today.”

Sophomore Savanna Beard stroked a two-RBI triple to right-center field to highlight a 4-run third inning.

Junior Mariah Hall also had an RBI single, and two hits overall, while freshman left fielder Brooke Taylor scored two runs. Wilson and seniors Anna Spates and Grace Speanburgh all added singles.