VIENNA - Sherman High and Wheeling Central kicked off Class A play in Vienna for the state softball tournament on Wednesday morning as the Lady Tide disposed of the reigning state champs, 8-1.
The game, originally scheduled for 9:45 was moved up to 9 a.m. as only two fields were playable due to excessive rainfall.
Sherman coach Jim Henderson said that while it was a good feeling beating the Maroon Knights, a foe in tournaments of past -- it wasn't his team's primary focus.
"I'm sure it takes some pressure off of the girls but for me, it really doesn't matter," he said. "That has been a lot of weight on their back over the last two years. Our girls put themselves in good shape to continue on in the tournament."
Sherman (31-4) got the scoring started in the first inning against Kyla Tharp when after a scorching double from Autumn Thompson, Haylee Clendenin blasted a homerun to left-center to make the score 2-0.
Cloey Toney doubled home a run in the second inning and Sherman led 3-0.
The Lady Knights (13-8) came back an inning later when Kaitlyn Ferns hit a long homerun to centerfield off of Thompson, making the contest a closer affair.
The Lady Tide broke loose at the plate in the fourth, scoring four runs in the frame. Katlyn Jenkins notched a sacrifice fly and an RBI. The inning was highlighted by a two-run homer from Hailea Skeens and another dramatic solo long-ball from Toney to right field and Sherman led, 7-1.
Henderson praised Sherman's team defense. The squad was crisp and aggressive in the field with Jenkins making a pair of heads up plays at first base and Amber Maloskey making a diving grab similar to the one she made last year in the same tourney. Wheeling Central made multiple errors on this morning.
"We played tough defense and didn't make an error," he said. "We had moments where it was really tough but we had to go and get the ball."
The Lady Tide tacked on a run in the sixth thanks to an RBI single from Chelsea Thompson. Autumn Thompson notched 11 strikeouts and gave up two hits for the Lady Tide. Jairika Baylor added a single for the Maroon Knights.
A. Thompson, H. Clendenin, H. Skeens, C. Toney and C. Thompson all had multiple hits for Sherman. Maloskey notched a single.
Sherman advanced in the winner's bracket versus Clay-Battelle. Wheeling Central will face Greenbriar West this evening. (May 22).
Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @philipdperry.