WARRENTON – Hailey Roberts had a sixth sense in the sixth inning of Warrenton’s GAC North opener against Winfield Tuesday.
She knew any softball to cross paths with her bat would be smashed to smithereens.
“All I could manage in my previous at-bat was a little blooper that got caught so I came up ready to swing, ready to really hit the ball hard,” Roberts said.
Roberts hit the ball so hard it left the yard, depositing a three-run bomb over the left field fence, while also adding a two-run double to center, all in the mix during the sixth.
The big knocks turned what was a slim one-run Warrenton lead after the fifth into a blowout with no need for a seventh as the Warriors christened the first game at their brand new softball field with a 15-5 victory.
“Fantastic team win,” Warrenton Head Coach Chad Berrey said. “So many people, especially (Athletic Director Kevin) Fowler and (School Board Director) Rodger Tucker, put in so much time and effort to make sure this field was ready for today, so the least we could do was put on a good show and get a victory.”
One thing Roberts didn’t know Tuesday though was that she had ended the game, unaware her double had put the 10-run rule into effect. It took her a while to depart from second base.
“I was waiting for our next batter to come up and then I finally realized what was happening when pretty much everyone left the field,” said Roberts with a laugh.
Hey, who can blame her or any of the Warriors if they wanted to keep playing? Their plate production was no laughing matter as Warrenton had more hits (22) and runs than it had in any game last season. Several had career days at the dish.
Roberts, a junior shortstop, finished 3-for-4 with eight RBIs. She was a triple shy of the cycle, scored two runs and stole a base.
Leadoff hitter and senior outfielder Dani Schlager was a perfect 5-for-5, drove in a run and scored four.
Sophomore Kaylin Haas went 4-for-5 with a double, two RBIs and a run scored.
Junior outfielder Michelle Higby had three base knocks, including a double, plated three runs and stole a base.
Add Avery Tucker to the long list of multi-hit performers. And Nicole DiSilvester was also productive, scoring three runs while getting on base with a single and a walk. The offense consistently put the ball in play with only one batter succumbing to a strikeout from Winfield hurler Anna Hoeckelmann.
“This is the type of offense we thought we could have from the beginning,” Berrey said. “But we have confidence in our bats and now they’re doing their thing.”
Sophomore Kathryn McChristy also did her thing in the pitcher’s circle — which is racking up a ton of strikeouts.
While she did get tagged for five runs, she struck out a career-high 15 batters, which is the most Ks for a Warrenton pitcher in a single game since current SEMO softballer Kaylee Anderson fanned 18 in a 14-1 win over St. Clair in 2016.
McChristy, who had three hits of her own at the plate, tossed 126 pitches, giving up five hits and four walks. The biggest hit against her was a two-run triple by Winfield cleanup hitter Tatum Bradshaw that cut the visitors’ deficit to 6-5 in the fifth.
“Watching (Kathryn) pitch is always a thing of beauty,” Roberts said. “She’s crazy good and it makes us feel good when we can give her some run support because she deserves it.”
Warrenton’s Warriors improved to 2-3 overall and 1-0 in conference play. The win snapped a three-game skid they suffered at the Troy Tournament on Monday when they fell to Ft. Zumwalt South (4-3), Fulton (11-2) and Hannibal (4-2) after beating Highland (3-0) in the tourney opener Friday. The host Trojans won their own tournament.
“We turned the page from Troy,” Berrey said. “New mindset, new day and we were able to hit the cover off the ball. And getting that first conference game under our belts gives us a lot of confidence going into next week.”
The Warriors visit St. Charles West Thursday and St. Charles Tuesday before returning home for nonconference action versus Hickman Sept. 11.
Count Roberts as a big fan of Warrenton’s new digs. “It’s great,” she said “I love the new field. It’s truly a sense of home. When we step onto that diamond we know that it’s ours.”