OXFORD - Though the 2014 high school softball season is only in its second week of league play, West Chester Henderson catcher Heidi McCollester hadn't been too happy with the way she'd been hitting. One of the are's top sluggers, McCollester just hadn't found her power stroke yet. Until Thrusday at Oxford that is.
After a couple of ground outs to start the game, McCollester blasted a pair of three-run dingers to pace the Warriors (3-1 National) in a 12-1 defeat of Oxford (0-5 American) in a Ches-Mont League contest shortened to five innings by the mercy rule.
"I really haven't been hitting well so far this season,' said McCollester. "After those first two at bats, I decided I just needed to sit back and wait on it a little more, and take it where it was pitched. They came in up the middle, and I took them up the middle. That's what our coach (Sarah Norris) is always preaching.'
The Warriors, as a team, hadn't played the way they did a year ago, either, a fact Norris believes had an effect on McCollester.
"I think she might have been putting a little pressure on herself,' said Norris. "We haven't had those big games with the bats that we seemed to have a bunch of by this point last year, and I think Heidi was taking to much pressure onto herself to change that.'
Thursday, though, the Warriors played a great all-around game, doing all the little things right, like laying down sacrifice bunts, moving up runners, and some heady baserunning. All of which played a big part in getting pitcher Megan Butts a win in her first-ever varsity pitching start.
"This is a different team than we had last year,' said Norris. "We are not the powerhitting team we were, and that's one of the adjustments I've had to make as a head coach. We have to do things like get the sacrifice bunts, sac flies and little singles up the middle. We have to play small ball to set up Heidi for the RBI.'
The Hornets grabbed a 1-0 lead with a run in the second. Emma Busko led off with a single. Carolann Bulfaro worked a walk to make it first and second, and sacrifced them over with a bunt. Jordan Reith brought the run home, beating out an infield single with two outs.
Henderson answered right back, pushing across three runs in the top of the third on singles from Analise Fouracre (3-for-3, three runs), Lauren Friedman (1-for-3, two runs), a sacrifice bunt from Taylor Fouracre and an RBI single from Allie Barnes.
The Warriors blew things open with a five-run fourth, highlighted by the first of McCollester's two homers and a double from Megan Butts, and iced it with a four-run fifth. The fifth inning saw the second homer by McCollester, along with singles from both of the Butts sisters, Megan and Lauren. Megan finished the day with two hits in four at bats, while Lauren was 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored.
While the Sienna University-recruit Lauren Butts is the Warriors' regular starter, it was Megan Butts that got the ball in the circle Thursday.
"Megan had already earned a spot in the starting line-up with her bat,' said Norris. "But we decided to give Lauren a break and give Megan a shot.'
The younger Butts acquitted herself quite nicely, locating all of her pitches, and finding an out pitch early on.
"We play travel ball together,' said McCollester, her batterymate. "So it really was new for me to be cathcing her. But she did a really nice job hitting spots, especially with her drop curve. They couldn't just take it to right, they were just hitting weak ground balls.'
Butts earned the pitching victory, going all five innings. She allowed just the one run on five hits. She struck out six, and walked two.
"I tried not to think about too much out there, so I didn't feel any pressure,' said Butts. "It felt really good to get the win. We've just got to keep the positives rolling.'
Henderson won't have much time to celebrate the win, or rest, for that matter, as the Warriors travel to West Chester East on Friday. The Vikings won the first cross-town battle just a week ago, and are as hot as any team in the county.
"We've been progressing from game to game,' said McCollester. "We just have to keep it going.'
W.C. Henderson 12
Oxford 0, 5 inningsHENDERSON ab r h bi OXFORD ab r h biFriedman CF 3 2 1 0 Mitros SS 3 0 0 0
T. Fouracre 2B 1 1 1 0 DiGiacomo LF 3 0 1 0
McCollester C 4 2 2 6 Kinsella C 3 0 0 0
M. Butts P 4 0 2 0 Busko 1B 3 1 1 0
Maritea PR 0 2 0 0 Bulfaro RF 3 0 1 0
Barnes RF 3 0 2 2 Bond DP 1 0 0 0
Cox SS 3 0 0 0 B. Stoltzfus CF 2 0 1 0
L. Butts 1B 3 2 2 0 Reith 3B 2 0 1 1
Harris LF 2 0 0 0 C. Stoltzfus P 2 0 0 0
A. Fouracre 3B 3 3 3 1 Cahill FLX 0 0 0 0
McKee P 0 0 0 0Totals 26 12 13 9 Totals 20 1 5 1
W.C. Henderson 003 45 -- 12
Oxford 000 00 -- 0
IP H R BB SO
W.C. HendersonM. Butts, W 5.0 5 0 2 6OxfordC. Stoltzfus, L 4.0 9 8 2 1
McKee 1.0 4 4 0 0