Photo by Brian Paglia / Ola junior Savannah McHellon crosses homeplate during the Lady Mustangs' 3-run first inning Wednesday at Woodland. Ola went on to win 10-6.
STOCKBRIDGE — The momentum didn’t stop for Ola softball Wednesday at Woodland as the Lady Mustangs pounded out 12 hits, including two home runs, in a 10-6 victory to finish their regular season schedule.
After encouraging region victories this week against No. 10 Starr’s Mill (4-0) and No. 2 Whitewater (3-2), the seventh-ranked Lady Mustangs got out to an early lead and held off a pesky Lady Wolfpack team looking for their first victory every against Ola.
Instead, the Lady Mustangs (16-5-2, 7-3 Region 4-AAAAA) made it 11 straight victories against Woodland and go into next week’s Region 4-AAAAA tournament with a surge of momentum.
“I definitely like the momentum we have going,” Ola coach Gidget Gue said. “The hits especially.”
Indeed, Ola had plenty. Three hits in the first inning — including Jessica Couch’s two-run double to centerfield — helped the Lady Mustangs take a 3-0 lead. Three more in the second inning — including Haylee Hester’s two-run home run to deep left field — increased the lead to 5-0.
But none had a bigger impact than Savannah McHellon’s blast in the fourth inning.
After Woodland scored three runs in the bottom of the third inning to trim Ola’s lead to 5-3, the Lady Mustangs went back to work. Freshman second baseman Morgan Bradford singled to right. Hester drew one of her three walks on the night to put runners on first and second.
McHellon then connected for a three-run home run that reached the perimeter fence of Woodland High School above the steep hill behind left field, giving Ola an 8-3 lead.
“My eyes just got really big,” McHellon said. “It was right down the middle, a mistake pitch, and I just got all of it.”
McHellon led Ola’s offensive outburst. Her home run was part of a 3-for-4 night that was just a triple shy of hitting for the cycle. Bradford, Jurie Joyner and Haley McCurry each had two hits. Hester had the home run and three walks and scored four times. Demi Hammond added a hit and an RBI. Ola drew five walks off Woodland ace Bethany Osif, four of which turned into runs.
“We knew coming into the game we were facing a team that could hit,” Woodland coach Kelli Poff said. “And they’re a well-coached team. Against a team like that you’ve got to make the basic plays that we couldn’t.”
Those were blunders — two first-inning errors and two base-running mistakes — that loomed large after the Lady Wolfpack (12-11, 9-0 Region 4-AAAA) showed signs of a compelling comeback late in the game.
After Ola extended its lead to 10-3 in the top of the sixth on run-scoring singles by McCurry and Hammond, the Lady Wolfpack responded with three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Osif, Leah Bergen and Taesha Duboise (3-for-4) hit RBI singles.
Freshman Lexi Duncan lined out right at Hester at third base to end the inning and leave the bases loaded.
“I’m proud of my team overall,” Poff said. “We can take some good things away from this game. That game’s winnable if we take away our errors.”