By David Rogers. BOONE, N.C. — A five-run scoring outburst in the first inning was just a prelude for things to come for Watauga High School’s softball team on March 8 vs. Wilkes Central. Combined with strong defense (and pitching) that kept the visiting Eagles off-balance, limiting them to just one run, the Pioneers’ offensive production over four innings triggered the high school “mercy rule,” an 11-1 win in just four and a half innings.
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After squandering a huge lead in the previous night’s game against North Surry, losing in the last inning, 23-22, the Pioneers seemed determined not to let that fate befall them on this night against the Eagles of Wilkes Central.
In her four innings pitching, Watauga sophomore Jordin Greene had a big night in the circle. She struck out five, walked three, hit one batter, and allowed just two hits, both singles, for her night’s work.
Greene also was instrumental in the Pioneers’ offensive production. At bat, she laced two singles and drew a walk, scored two runs and stole two bases.
Junior designated player Elise Presnell also had a productive night at the plate, smacking a single and a double, stealing two bases, scoring 3 runs, and pushing across a runner ahead of her to earn an RBI.
Sophomore shortstop Julie Matheson hit a hard line drive to her Eagle counterpart in the first inning, but that “out” didn’t spoil her night. She followed up with a double, a single, a run scored and had 2 RBIs.
Getting around the base paths didn’t seem much of a problem for the Pioneers, who scattered six stolen bases across the four innings and advanced runners on four passed balls by the Eagle pitchers and catchers. The Pioneer base stealers included Greene (2), Kara Brooks, Chloe Wilson, and Elise Presnell (2).
“We certainly have speed when we get on base,” Watauga head coach April Yandle said after the game, “and that is something we want to take advantage of.”
Watauga also demonstrated a degree of roster depth. When inserted into the lineup in the fourth inning as a replacement second baseman, sophomore Elizabeth Watson promptly ripped a bases-emptying triple down the right field line.
For the 2-3 Pioneers, so far it has been either win big or lose big in the early 2023 season. They have defeated Wilkes Central twice (19-6 on Feb. 28 and 11-1 on March 8), and lost to Surry Central (7-1 on March 1 and 23-22 on March 7) and to Starmount (14-4 on March 6).
Next up is another home encounter, this time vs. Allegheny on March 15, then a final non-conference home tilt against Polk County on March 17. The Pioneers open Northwestern Conference play on March 21, at South Caldwell.