VIENNA — Sherman Coach Jim Henderson put it best after a win over Wheeling Central on Wednesday morning.
"We are here for a reason and we just have to keep doing the things that
make us a good softball team," he said. "We're ready for this and we
can't wait to get back out there."
Sherman's squad made their coach look like Nostradamus as this is exactly what they did in a 7-0 dismantling of a very good Clay-Battelle team that was making their first appearance in the state tournament.
For Sherman, they have never won a state championship in any team sport at any level.
Jackson Memorial Park experienced a pitching duel for the first five frames as
Sherman's Autumn Thompson locked horns with Caitlyn Kassay to give lovers of the art of pitching plenty of entertainment for their price of admission.
“In 2017 we had to play two games to get into the championship game and right now we are in the drivers seat so to speak,” Henderson said. “Someone would have to beat us twice and we have to show up tomorrow because either of theseteams can beat us at any time. When you get here you see that everyone around you is very good or they wouldn’t be here.”
Thompson won the shootout, surrendering only three hits and unofficially
fanning nine Cee Bee batters.
“She was the one who set the tone and energy for the game and she did that at the plate, as well,” Henderson said. “All year long we went as she did. That is just a fact. She is important to our team and that goes without saying.”
The Lady Tide finished third in the state in Class A in 2018 and lost a
championship game to Wheeling Central in 2017 so the squad is hungry and they want their place at the table to eat.
The scoring kicked off with Katlyn Jenkins mashing a sharp double to plate
Autumn Thompson in the first frame, after she reached base on a double that was just a foot-and-a-half from leaving the ballpark versus Sydney Wilson who started the game and went two innings.
Chelsey Thompson scored in the second inning after Amber Maloskey pushed her home with a daisy cutter of her own.
It was then that the pitching duel began when Kassay entered the game and
quietly fanned eight Lady Tide hitters in a row. Sherman eventually got to her
and chipped away until it was too late for the Cee Bees to get back into the
game against a pitcher with the pedigree of Thompson.
“She (Kassay) came in and did what she needed to do and we were chasing those high fastballs,” he said. “She was pitching smart and we kept going for it.”
Haylee Clendenin plated Thompson again with a textbook sacrifice bunt and an error by the Cee Bees making the score 4-0. Then, Clendenin scored on a wild pitch and Sherman was shutting the door.
Sydnee Ferrell notched an RBI hit and freshman Jada Samuel got a state
tournament knock to help her remember the experience for future reference.
Autumn Thompson set the tone with the bat as well going 3-for-3 at the plate, with a walk and three runs scored from her perch at the top of the lineup.
Henderson spoke about the Boone County-based community he and the team call home.
“Sherman people always travel well and we can feel that they are there,” he
said. “I was on a state runner-up football team at Sherman in 1975 and it was a big deal and everyone came alive for the runner-up baseball team in 1990 and when we did that in 2017. We want to give this to all of the Sherman folks who would absolutely love to bring this back home. That is what I think about.”
Sherman will play Thursday's winner between Wheeling Central and Clay-Battelleand win one of two games to claim the title. Game time is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. but thunderstorms were in the forecast on Wednesday night.
Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @philipdperry.