Sand Rock softball heads into spring break hot after thrashing Spring Garden

Sand Rock’s Katelyn StClair dashes to third base on a triple to right field in the bottom of the first inning of the Lady Wildcats’ game against Spring Garden on Thursday. Photo by Shannon Fagan.

By Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director

SAND ROCK – Sand Rock junior shortstop Katelyn StClair said she wished spring break wasn’t next week. She feels like she’s just beginning to break out of a recent slump.

Senior pitcher EllaGrace Hood also wouldn’t mind playing a few softball games during the break either.

The reason they feel that way is because the Class 2A, No. 3 Lady Wildcats are clicking on all cylinders.

On Thursday in their final game before a week off, Sand Rock went out with a bang by blasting rival Spring Garden 15-0 in three innings.

StClair went 3-for-3, falling a home run short of the cycle. Meanwhile, Hood took care of things in the circle. She tossed a no-hitter with seven strikeouts.

It was the fifth straight game Sand Rock (20-6) has held its opponent scoreless.

“I feel like our team works hard every day,” StClair said. “I think we compete with each other too, so that makes us get better. I haven’t been hitting well, so I had to knock the rust off yesterday with my hitting coach. I feel good now. I wish it wasn’t spring break honestly. I want to keep playing. I want to see how many games we can get blanks.”

StClair is going to have to wait a few days to see how long that streak continues. The Lady Wildcats aren’t scheduled to play again until April 3 in a rematch at Spring Garden.

“I opted this year not to play a tournament at either end (of spring break) because we’ve played so much at the beginning of the season,” Sand Rock coach Josh Bates said. “Our kids are playing really well right now. They’re having fun. I just hope we don’t have a letdown when we come back after spring break. I don’t feel like we will. I feel like we’ll be motivated, hungry and ready to play.”

The Lady Wildcats were certainly motivated to play on Thursday. They scored three runs in bottom of the first inning, four more in the second, and ended the game with eight in the third.

StClair, who scored three runs and drove in three more, wasn’t the only Sand Rock player swinging a hot stick. Lacey Barnette belted out three hits, including a pair of doubles, two runs and two RBIs. Her last double was a walk-off hit that scored the final two runs.

Hood, Sherina Foster and Bailey Kilgore each had a pair of hits. Hood doubled, tripled and scored twice and drove in four runs. Foster also walked, scored a run and drove in another. Kilgore also scored a run.

Jadyn Foster managed a hit, a walk, two runs and two RBIs. Emma Sipsy also had a hit, a walk, two runs and a RBI. Briley Knight finished with a hit and scored twice.

The only base runner Hood allowed to Spring Garden (3-5) was a walk to Madi Ham in the third inning with two outs.

“She did a great job hitting her spots today, moving the ball around, keeping their hitters off-balance,” Bates said. “It’s easy to call pitches when she’s pitching like that. I’m very proud for her to have that no-hitter and to keep them off the base paths as much as she did.”

“I feel like all my pitches were working good today,” Hood said. “I feel like I’m starting to gain velocity. I’m throwing better now as the season has gone on.”

It’s a season that seems to have the makings of something special.

“This group came out game one and they’ve had the same intensity for the last 27 games we’ve played,” Bates said. “That’s the thing I’ve notice about this team that separates them from other teams. The level of intensity they have, the level of focus they have when we step on the field to play, they’re ready. I don’t have to motivate them. It makes my job easy. They’re hungry and they’re loving playing this game.”

Sand Rock’s EllaGrace Hood delivers a pitch against Spring Garden on Thursday. Photo by Shannon Fagan.
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