A base-running mistake in the bottom of the fifth inning took two Orange County runs off the board Thursday, but the Hornets’ bats stayed hot.
Orange plated five runs in the final two innings to remain undefeated with a 6-4 victory over William Monroe.
“We try to balance the lineup and put combinations together so we still have really good hitters in the bottom of the order,” first-year Orange head coach Neil Ferguson said. “The top of the order isn’t just loaded. We stagger it so pitchers have to face good hitters the whole way through.”
With Orange trailing 2-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth, Makayla Herndon sent what should have been a three-run home run over the fence in left field. But after rounding first, she passed teammate Ashley Brassart before reaching second base.
A conference ensued, the VHSL rule book was consulted and the result was two runs being taken away, tying the game 2-2.
The Hornets (4-0) responded with a line drive down the first-base line that scored Brassart and gave Orange a 3-2 advantage heading into the sixth.
The offense stayed hot in the sixth, when Brassart scored Lexi Lomax from third and Hannah Meadows sent a two-run double to the fence in centerfield for a 6-2 lead.
“I think our pitcher got a little tired and [Orange] started hitting her a little better,” William Monroe head coach Greg Breeden said. “But we had plays to make. We just didn’t make enough of them.”
Meadows, a sophomore, pitched a complete game for the Hornets, striking out four. She also led the way with two RBI.
“Hannah is a stud,” Ferguson said. “We try to limit her pitch count because she’s so young, but her velocity is getting better every year and she has three or four good pitches.”
The sixth inning spelled the end for William Monroe starter Hailie Lamb, who struck out two and walked six in 6.2 innings.
The Greene Dragons (1-3) put a couple runs on the board in the top of the seventh.
Longwood signee Alexis Wayland got on first with a single, stole third and scored on a throwing error. Brooke Spicer cut the lead to 6-4 with an RBI single, but that’s as close as the Dragons would come.
“We’re a 1-3 team, but we’re two or three plays from being a 4-0 team,” Breeden said. “We’re playing a tough early schedule, but we’re going to be good by the end of the season.”
Monroe broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the fifth with three base hits and a run thanks to a shot from Wayland (2-for-4) that was mishandled in the outfield.
In the third, Lacey Beale (2-for-2) tied the game at one with a hard-hit ball that was dropped, allowing Beale’s sister Kaitlyn (2-for-3) to score.
Orange returns to action Friday when it hosts neighboring rival Madison County at OCHS. The girls travel to Spotsylvania Monday and to Charlottesville Tuesday.