Heritage can’t get over William Blount’s Hill, Payne
By Grant Ramey | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
With Heritage threatening Thursday and William Blount clinging to a one-run lead, Erin Hill kept pitching to contact and Natalie Payne kept making plays.
Behind the freshman in the circle and the senior at shortstop, the Lady Govs held on for a 5-1 win over their county rivals to continue their momentum heading into next week’s District 4-AAA tournament.
“She’s gonna be a player for us,” William Blount coach Amanda Leatherwood said of Hill, who went the distance for WB, giving up the lone run while scattering seven Heritage hits over seven innings.
“I think she’ll be a beast on the mound.”
She looked like a seasoned veteran Thursday, with the help of Payne’s defense behind her, in the fifth and six innings.
Heritage, trailing 2-1 in the fifth, had runners on second and third, but a hard-hit Allison Headrick ground ball was turned around by Payne at short, where she fired home to beat a sliding Taylor Edwards to the plate. With runners on the corner, Hill forced another groundout, again to Payne at short, to get out of the inning unscathed.
“She has made some tough plays and has really taken a beating,” Leatherwood said. “But we really needed those outs.
“The difference in our team’s mentality is they don’t let that one error get to them, especially in this game. They bounced right back and made some plays.”
William Blount committed a pair of errors in the fifth, but didn’t give up a run.
Heritage threatened again in the sixth, but again Hill and the Lady Govs stood tall.
McKenzie Sherman singled to start it and Angela Galyan reached on an error, moving to second on a ball thrown high to first, to put runners on second and third with no outs.
But Hill got a ground out, a pop out to Payne and a fly out to center field and, just like that, was out of the inning without giving up a run.
“That’s huge,” Leatherwood said. “When you have some pressure on you, runner on third, or second and third, it’s hard to look and go to (first) and get the out.”
“You can’t really do anything about that,” Heritage coach Jeff Sherman said. “We got runners in scoring position and couldn’t capitalize.”
William Blount put up two first-inning runs on a two-run single from Montana Coffey.
Heritage cut the lead in half in the fifth when Sherman tripled and came home in the next Heritage at-bat on a Galyan RBI single. But that’s all the Lady Mountaineers could manage against Hill.
“Erin Hill, she pitched a great game,” Jeff Sherman said. “She kept us at bay. Natalie Payne, she played great defense.”
William Blount added three runs in the top of the seventh to add some cushion to Hill’s complete game.
Jennifer Houser did most of the damage, with a two-out, two-run singled, scoring Coffey and Hill for a 4-1 lead before coming around to score herself later in the inning.
Now the Lady Govs have just one more distraction and a couple games left on the schedule before the district tournament rolls around next week — and WB is playing well at the right time.
“I think our sticks are still hit or miss, but overall they’ve been hot,” Leatherwood said. “We need to get in the cage.
“Prom is this weekend, but once that’s over, come Monday, we’re ready to focus up.”