Kennedy Collins

KENNEDY COLLINS, seen here earlier this summer, led Wilkes County with two hits in the first game of its doubleheader against Post 392 on Thursday.

It was a tale of two completely different games for Wilkes County Post 31 as it split wins with Caldwell County in North Carolina American Legion Lady Fastpitch on Thursday night.

The Flashers dropped the first game to Post 392 5-1 at West Wilkes High School and responded with a 4-0 win in the second part of the doubleheader.

Wilkes County improved to 7-3 overall and 3-1 in conference play.

“I thought the girls were definitely flat coming out, for sure. I thought we chased a lot of pitches and were free swingers,” said Post 31 Head Coach Kelly Nichols. “I know the other pitcher threw 38 pitches through four innings in that first game. That tells us that we were not disciplined at the plate, we were just up there free swinging. I thought we did a much better job of that in the second game.”

Discipline at the plate was apparent in the first contest of the evening, but the Flashers found themselves in an early hole,  forcing them to attempt to dig out the rest of the way.

Caldwell managed to get on the board in the top half of the first inning with an RBI single from Jillian Jones that found a hole in left field to give Post 392 a 1-0 lead.

After forcing Wilkes into a three-up, three-down inning, Post 392 showed some offensive firepower with four more runs.

Malea Prestwood doubled down the first-base line to drive in Kyndall Vaught with the first run of the inning. Moments later with the bases loaded Peyton Boggs brought in another run with a liner to left field, giving Caldwell a 3-0 lead with no outs.

With the bases still loaded, Wilkes’ Isabelle Curry tried to limit the damage as she fanned the next two batters. It seemed as if Curry would get the Flashers out of further harm, but as her third strike was swung on and missed the ball went past catcher Paige Phillips.

Phillips chased down the ball and fired to first, but the ball went through the glove of Arden Wagoner, allowing two more runs to score on the error and giving Caldwell an early 5-0 lead.

Wilkes responded with a run in the bottom of half of the second with an RBI single from Kennedy Collins after Presley Dancy reached with a two-out double.

The Flashers were held to only two more hits the rest of the way.

“Isabelle was a little off at the start, and so you can tell she was probably getting a little frustrated with herself,” said Nichols. “The team has to do a better job getting behind each other defensively and offensively. I thought we were a lot more focused in the second game.”

Unlike the opener, Wilkes jumped out to the early lead and rode a solid performance inside the pitching circle from Wagoner.

In the bottom half of the first, Post 31 got the bats going early with a leadoff double from Sophie Nichols. Kendall Stanley traded places on the basepath with Nichols as she ripped a double to left field, giving the Flashers the 1-0 lead.

After moving to third on Kacey Triplett’s groundout, Stanley tagged up to score on Curry’s sacrifice fly to left field, putting Wilkes ahead 2-0.

Wilkes added two more in the bottom of the third as Nichols reached with a walk and Stanley was hit by a pitch to put two on with no outs. Triplett stepped in and lined a double to left-center, driving in both runners and improving the lead to 4-0.

Caldwell was unable to muster a comeback as Post 31 picked up the win in the final game of the evening.

Wagoner went the distance for the Flashers to pick up the win, limiting Caldwell to only two hits in a dominant shutout victory.

“She’s done outstanding,” Kelly Nichols said of Wagoner after the game. “We’re fortunate right now to have three pitchers and we can put anybody out there and I’m confident with the results. We’re not a team that’s going to fan 10 or 12 girls, we’re going to have to play defense and I would put this defense up against anybody.

“A couple, defensively that stood out: Kennedy Collins made several good plays in center for us tonight and Katie Spears came up with some nice plays in left for us,” added Nichols. “Across the board we’re doing things defensively, I would just like for the girls to come ready in game one, ready to swing the bat a little bit better. We’re a young team, so hopefully we’ve got a little more improving to do.”

The Flashers will have a short break until July 8 when they will have a rematch at Hibriten High School with Caldwell County before continuing on the road to face Alexander Post 170 and Watauga Post 130 later in the week.

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