WHEELING - Just a week after allowing 12 first-inning runs in a three-inning loss to visiting Wheeling Central, Linsly softball Coach Amanda Smith was hoping her team might play a little better in Thursday's rematch with the Maroon Knights.
While the Cadets played with more confidence and better overall in the field, there was no one that played any better than Central senior pitcher Sarah Henry.
Henry celebrated Senior Night by hurling a perfect game, fanning seven along the way, while also ripping a walk-off double in the bottom of the fifth as the Maroon Knights had to work a little harder and longer than last week but still posted an 8-0 victory against Linsly on Lisa's Field at the J.B. Chambers I-470 Sports Complex.
The victory moves Coach Rick Magruder's squad to 15-5 on the season.
For Henry, it was a day in which she went deep into the count on at least five different occasions, but managed to record the out each and every time.
"I was very pleased with how well Sarah came back in the count," Magruder said. "She went to three balls on some hitters, but she battled and sat each one of them down eventually."
Things looked like they may start the way the last game did early on as the Knights scored three runs in the first inning on just one hit. A fielder's choice and walk was followed by Ashley Gast's RBI base hit. Sydney Bennington was then called out on strikes, but reached on a dropped ball with two more runs crossing on the ensuing error for a 3-0 count.
Wheeling Central's next run, and hit, came in the fourth when Bennington and Henry each singled to begin the frame with Bennington eventually scoring on Laken Visnick's two-out fielder's choice.
But the Knights broke out the big sticks in the home-half of the fifth to score the final four runs of the day. Joni Zavolta laced a leadoff triple and scored on Cara Stahl's single. Stahl scored when Allie Cook doubled and the Cadets made their second error of the game. After an out, Bennington ripped a two-run double down the left-field line before Henry's two-bagger to deep center ended the contest.
"Linsly didn't make the same mistakes (Thursday) that they did last week," Magruder added. "They played solid defense and their pitcher did a nice job. We are not hitting the ball quite as well as we did on our little run earlier this season, but we are still making contact and putting it into play.
"With the OVAC tournament coming up next week we will get a little more time to work on some hitting."
Smith, meanwhile, just wants her team to continue to show progress.
"We are working and striving for progress, progress, progress," Smith mentioned. "It is not about perfection right now, we are just doing what we have to do to get better. We have a lot of underclassmen playing and this is not really how we anticipated the season going.
"It is nice to work hard and make the other team sweat it out a little bit. Our goal (Thursday) was to do better than last week against them and we did that. We made some position changes and we are continuing to be a work in progress.
"I also told the girls that I don't care who they are, or how good they are, if they are not going to give a good effort and play with enthusiasm they are not going to play and I think telling them that also helped."