By Kedrick Storey/Southern Sentinel
WALNUT – The Walnut Lady Wildcats, Div. 2-2A champions, swept the Riverside Lady Bulldogs in Tuesday’s opening round of the MHSAA Class 2A State Slow-Pitch Softball Tournament 10-0 and 11-0 to sweep the series.
Walnut will face Hatley in the second round this weekend.
The Lady Wildcats (20-3) won both games by the five inning run-rule and totaled 21 hits on the day. Fourth-year coach Kelly Hopper said she was pleased to advance, but wasn’t proud of her team’s Game 1 performance.
“I thought their intensity level was poor and they hit the ball poor in the first game.” said Hopper, who’s guided the Lady Wildcats to three playoff appearances and two division titles. “We said that those two things had to improve they did. We’re happy with that.”
Walnut had 11 hits in Game 1 and built a 6-0 lead on the Lady Bulldogs, the No. 2 seed from Division 4-2A, after two innings. They scored four in the first inning on a two-RBI single by Taylor Doyle and an RBI each by Becky Robinson and Haley Wilbanks.
Ashley Pankey’s RBI-triple in the third inning gave the Lady Wildcats an 7-0 lead. Libby Meeks added the final touch with a three-RBI double in the home half off the fifth.
In Game 2, pitcher Haley Wilbanks and the Walnut defense held the Lady Bulldogs (12-6) to one hit. The Lady Wildcats had 10 hits, including RBI-doubles from Robinson Pankey and Erica Clifton. Presley Pulse added an RBI triple.
“We’re proud of the girls,” said Hopper. “I think if they work hard, good things are going to happen. They’ve worked hard and they deserve a chance in the second round. Maybe we’ll do well.”