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Getting back in the groove
Rhealee Johnson.jpg
Lady Pioneer 3B Rhealee Johnson runs down a DeKalb County player during Tuesday's big win. The defending District 6AAA champions started the season with an 11-1 win over the Lady Tigers. - photo by Jeffery Simmons

Power and pitching. It’s coming to define the Lady Pioneers.

Ashton Whiles and Madison Hollis each hit homers and combined to hold DeKalb County to just five hits in Tuesday’s 11-1 win.

“It took us a couple times around the lineup to get ready,” said coach Gooby Martin. “We’ve only seen live pitching once. We’ll need to play more games to get comfortable in the box.”

The Lady Pioneers looked plenty comfortable starting in the fifth inning.

The Lady Tigers held down the powerful Lady Pioneer offense for four innings, but Warren County finally broke the tie in the fifth. Reigning District 6AAA player of the year Hailey Wood plated the game’s first run with a RBI single, opening the floodgates.

The Lady Pioneers followed with three straight doubles from Emily Mikkola, Whiles and Rhealee Johnson to make it 4-0.

The offense was just getting started.

Hollis, a freshman, showed her power to start an avalanche of runs in the sixth. Hollis launched a two-run home run to straight center, with the ball skipping off the top of the fence and over.

Whiles cleared the bases moments later. After Wood and Grace Rains reached on singles, Whiles launched her 13th career home run - four off the school record - to make it 9-1.

Known for her power, Whiles finished the night 2-for-4 with four RBIs, most coming courtesy of her favorite pitch.

“It was 0-0 count, so I was just looking for one pitch – something inside I know I can drive. It happened to be my perfect pitch,” said Whiles. “It felt really great being on the field. I’m excited about our play.”

Maddie Cantrell and MaKenna Mason made sure the game wouldn’t need a seventh inning, enacting a run rule with a pair of RBI singles.

Wood, who hit .405 a season ago, was 3-for-4 in the debut. Johnson and Mason finished with two hits apiece. 

Whiles and Hollis each pitched three innings, with Hollis picking up the win. Whiles allowed one hit and struck out three, while Hollis had five strikeouts - three coming in the fifth - while surrendering one run on four hits.

Their efforts in the circle weren’t lost on the skipper.

“I was impressed by the pitchers and the defense played well. We threw strikes and caught balls – that’s always a recipe for wins,” said Martin.

The Lady Pioneers will be in action this weekend in the Commando Classic. At press time Thursday, the schedule was being reconfigured due to heavy rain.