Man's Kylie Blevins reaches out for an infield single during the fourth inning of Man's 7-0 loss at Wahama Wednesday evening in the Class A Region 4 championship series (Photo by Bill Lusk/WVOW Sports).
Bill Lusk | WVOW Sports
HARTFORD When playing against one of the best teams in the state, errors and mistakes are crucial, and Wednesday evening, the sixth-ranked Man Lady Hillbillies learned that lesson the hard way, in a 7-0 loss against the top-ranked and two-time reigning Class A champion Wahama Lady White Falcons in game one of the Class A Region 4 championship series.
Man coach Randy Epperly saw his team commit three throwing errors, allow a passed ball, throw a wild pitch, failed to move runners over and saw his star pitcher struggle to find the strike zone as the Lady Hillbillies are one loss away from elimination.
Epperly summed up his team’s performance using three words.
“We played bad,” Epperly said from the dugout following the defeat.
The loss also snapped Man’s 12-game winning streak and extended Wahama’s winning streak to 13 games and moved the Lady White Falcons a win away from advancing to their third consecutive Class A state tournament.
The Lady White Falcons can advance to the state tournament with a win Thursday over Man, while a win by the Lady Hillbillies would force a winner-take-all game Friday at Wahama.
Man starting pitcher and Radford University signee Morgan Cooper struggled to find the home plate umpire’s strike zone all evening. Cooper allowed just three hits and struck out 10, but walked seven batters and hit two more resulting in seven runs for the Lady White Falcons.
While Cooper was struggling with the zone, Wahama starting pitcher and Ohio University signee Mikie Lieving was in a groove. Lieving allowed just three hits and struck out 11 in the circle for the Lady White Falcons.
Lieving had one of three Wahama hits, stole four of the Lady White Falcons eight bases, scored three runs, walked twice and was hit by a pitch.
Kalyn Christian went 2-for-3 with a solo home run and a two-run home and three RBIs for Wahama at the dish.
Wahama never trailed in the game, jumping out to a 2-0 lead without the benefit of a hit in the third inning. Peyton Staats led off the inning with a walk and stole second ahead of Lieving’s second walk. Staats and Lieving executed a perfect double steal as Staats stole third with Lieving stealing second. Staats would score on a throwing error for a 1-0 lead and Lieving scored on a passed ball to extend Wahama’s lead to 2-0.
Man threatened in the fourth as Kylie Blevins led off with a single, however, McKinlee Cline struck out on a failed bunt attempt to move Blevins into scoring position. Cooper grounded into a fielder’s choice and Mattie Carroll was hit by the pitch, but Lieving got Peyton Lusk to ground out to third to end the inning.
Man’s next best scoring chance came in the fifth inning when Jacklynn Barnett reached base safely on a dropped fly ball. Barnett stole second, but Lieving struck out Meoldy Rozzell and Trista Marcum for the first and second outs, and Barnett advanced to third on Zoey Jackson’s single with two outs, however, Lieving got Blevins to strike out ending the fifth.
Lieving scored on a throwing error to give Wahama a 3-0 lead in the fifth inning. Following an Amber Wolfe groundout, Christian hit her first home run, a solo shot over the left field fence, to give the Lady White Falcons a 4-0 lead.
Christian’s home run was the first hit for the Lady White Falcons as Cooper held them hitless for 4 1/3 innings before Christian’s long ball that broke the spirits of the Lady Hillbillies.
Lieving scored on a wild pitch in the sixth and Christian added a two-run home run over the center field fence for a 7-0 Wahama lead.
Blevins, Cooper and Jackson each had one hit for Man.
The Lady Hillbillies will try to keep their season alive Thursday evening when they host game two at 6 p.m. at Man High School.
Epperly knows his team will have to come ready to play Thursday if they are to avoid being swept out of the regional championship for a third straight year.