Valkyries Slug 13 Hits in 10-0 Shutout Win
CSN Staff Writer
photos courtesy of Tom Stephens
Abrams notches four hits in SHA's district victory
Brianna Abrams and Olivia Russell were a combined 7-of-7 and scored two runs each to lead Sacred Heart Academy to a 27th District win over visiting Seneca High School on Wednesday evening.
The Valkyries pounded out 13 hits and scored their 10th run in the 5th inning to finish the game under the "mercy rule." Abrams, a junior SS, recorded four singles and knocked in the final tally with two outs in the 5th.
"It was a big district win for us, especially coming off the loss to Bullitt East yesterday," said SHA Head Coach Bob Wheatley. "Pretty pleased with the result tonight as we were very aggressive on the bases, pushing the issue when we were on base. Going from first to third on that bunt was a good sign for us. The kids have worked really hard on the running game and going back-door on slides paid off for us."
Sophomore 1B Olivia Russell started the game with a solid double to deep center-field and came around to score on a Seneca error off the bat of senior DH Maria Katzman.
Sophomore Maggie Hewett followed with a double to score Katzman and Hewett scored on Abrams' RBI single to put the Valkyries ahead 3-0 in the first.
They scored three more in the 3rd, and two apiece in the 4th and 5th innings to finish the scoring and give pitcher Kaitlyn Holden the shutout win.
Freshman RF Ellen Stephens helped preserve Holden's shutout in the fourth inning. With runners on the corners and two outs, Stephens broke quickly on a sinking line drive to make a sliding catch and end the Seneca scoring threat.
But early in the game, Russell's at bats made a big impression. The diminutive sophomore, she stands 5'2", is the leadoff hitter and has three home runs on the season.
She put two to the center-field fence in her three at bats in this game. Her power is all the more surprising in that she had surgery to repair a torn labrum in her right shoulder just six months ago.
"She's a lot like (former Major Leaguer) Rickey Henderson with her power," said Wheatley. "She's got decent speed, but she can also drive a double or triple or a home run to the gap. She doesn't strike out a lot and puts the ball in play. For us, she's the ideal leadoff batter."
Russell has worked her way back into form after a rough road in the offseason with that shoulder surgery. Having played Shortstop all of her life and last year for the Valkyries, she had to make the switch to play first base because the arm is not near fully recovered..
"I worked almost every day in the winter with my arm in a sling, giving everything I could to make it back in time for the season," said Russell. "I hurt it during the summer playing in the World Series with the Stunners (summer travel team). I went to rehab for two months before they found the real problem and had the surgery in October.
The first time I was allowed to throw was the first day of tryouts for the team. Strength-wise, it's probably at 70 percent right now."
While Russell's position on the field may have changed, she's giving her team a boost
with the bat as well as steady play at first base. She sets the tone at the top of the
lineup with her smooth swing and deceptive power.
"As for the power, I've never hit this many home runs (she has three so far)," said Russell. "I guess all the work I did with my good arm really helped my power. But hitting first (in the order), I know I have to take a lot of pitches and help the team. I try to check and see where the pitcher's throwing if I'm on base and let my teammates know about that every time."
With just one senior on the team, P/DH Maria Katzman, the Valkyries program looks to be a district and regional contender. Now 11-6, SHA will face some big regional games in the coming weeks, but their biggest test will come May 9 in their game against district leader Ballard High School.
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