Orange County softball coach Neal Ferguson was able scout William Fleming the day before Tuesday’s Region 5D quarterfinal. Word got back quickly to the rest of his staff — take something off velocity wise on the pitches. There was a payoff. Playing at home, the Hornets pounded the ball and put up 10 hits to along with nine walks to cruise to an 11-0 win.
“Even when you think you know what you’re getting you’ve always got to be leary of teams like this because you just never quite know for sure,” Ferguson said. “You still have to come out and execute and I thought the girls did a great job of that.”
The Hornets jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first after Samantha Ferguson drew a lead off walk and was driven in on an RBI ground out from Alana Shumake and Kennedy Tuel was able to draw a walk and score on a passed ball.
Orange blew the game wide open with a 7-run rally in the third. There the Hornets got an RBI groundout from Tuel and with two outs saw Riley Clatterbuck draw a bases loaded walk, Kennon Burnet hit a 2-run single to right field, Naomi Hale deliver an RBI single to through the gap in short and third and Ferguson hit another 2-run single to right.
“We worked a lot on change of speeds because of the scouting we got from Coach Ferg,” said Orange senior Lindsay Slaughter. “Thankfully he got the word over here for the rest of the coaching staff so that we were able to get going with the flow, it really helped.”
Up 9-0, it was an easy day in the circle for Hornets pitcher Hannah Meadows. She needed just 90 pitches in the seven innings shutout that saw her give up just three hits and a walk to 12 strikeouts.
“We’re hitting our stride right now,” Ferguson said. “We’re playing our best ball right now and we’re not perfect yet but we’re playing well. The girls are enjoying the process. We’re thrilled. We’ve got Samatha Ferguson, Kennedy Tuel and Hannah Meadows leading the way right now as underclassmen but 3-year varsity starters so we’re happy about that.”
The Hornets were able to pick up two more runs in the fifth on an RBI triple from Ferguson and a sacrifice fly from Meadows to make it 11-0.
On the night, Ferguson was 3-for-5 at the dish and drove in three runs while also stealing three bases. Shumake was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Burnett was 1-for-3 with two RBI and Hale was 1-for-2 with an RBI.
Orange will play again on Tuesday against an opponent TBD in the semifinals. The winner will advance to to the Region 5D championship game and punch a ticket to the Class 5A tournament.
“We’ve gotten a lot better and a lot of that has been our attitude,” Slaughter said. “At the beginning things were a bit rocky and we weren’t working that well together but as the season’s gone along we’ve built as a team, the coaches have helped us a get better each week. Overall, we’re just a lot better than when we started.”