LISBON — When making out a lineup card, coaches look at various key points of the lineup. Possibly the best hitter in the No. 3 hole, the most powerful at No. 4, or a player that can handle the bat in bunt situations at No. 2.

But, the leadoff hitter, no matter the inning, always seems to be the key, and the Oak Hill High School softball team used that strategy to perfection in a 6-1 Mountain Valley Conference win over Lisbon on Wednesday.

Raiders leadoff hitters went a combined 4-for-7 and scored three runs. Sadie Waterman had a game for Oak Hill (5-1) out of the No. 1 spot, picking up three hits, scoring three runs and driving in one.

“Being the leadoff hitter is key, and if we’re hitting, everyone is hitting,” said Waterman, who began the game with an infield single, moved to second on an error, to third on a wild pitch and to the plate on a sacrifice fly by Mahala Smith for a quick 1-0 Raiders lead.

“Sadie has been key all year and that is why she is my leadoff hitter, as she almost never strikes out, she will get on base one way or the other, and she is a fantastic base runner,” Oak Hill coach Allyson Collins said.

“We set a lineup, looking at the first three batters, the sixth batter, and you put the lineup together hoping for those timely hits. It didn’t happen today,” Lisbon coach Terri Tlumac said. “You put the people in the positions that you hope produces, followed by the rest falling in line.”


Oak Hill doubled its lead in the second inning. Julia Ahlberg doubled to begin things and moved to third on a single by Miranda Kramer. Two pitches later, Ahlberg toughed the plate after a wild pitch by Lisbon hurler Mallory Fairbanks.

On the rubber for Oak Hill was Waterman, who escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the first inning with a strikeout and fly ball. She retired seven straight before back-to-back singles by Fairbanks and Giana Russo in the third. Once again, Waterman kept Lisbon off the board.

“We did put some runners on, but then our bats were in slow motion. We just didn’t produce when we needed to,” Tlumac said.

“Lisbon is always a tough opponent, and when you come here you’re always in for a tough game,” Collins said. “I always feel sick before playing them because you know it’s going to be a tough game. They are a solid team with consistent hitting.”

Two-out magic

Oak Hill turned to two-out hitting to double its lead in the fourth. No. 9 hitter Rylea Swan doubled after Fairbanks had retired the first two Raiders, and Waterman plated Swan with a single to left field. Smith picked up her second RBI, ripping a double.


Waterman retired the Greyhounds in order in both the fourth and fifth innings, but ran into trouble in the Lisbon sixth. Russo ripped a single to left field that was misplayed, with the ball rolling to the fence and Russo trucking around the bases for Lisbon’s run.

Kiley Merritt followed with a long double to center field. Collins visited the mound and decided to change pitchers, bringing in reliever Molly Flaherty, who retired two straight Greyhound hitters to keep the Oak Hill lead at three.

“Coming into this game, three of our games we faced a softer schedule, so this was our first pitchers that we faced that were competitive,” Tlumac said.

Oak Hill tacked on its final two runs in the sixth. Waterman (3-for-4) led off with a single, followed by a single by Smith (3-for-3, run, two RBIs) that Lisbon booted, allowing Waterman to score and Smith to scamper all the way to third. Kiera Young followed with a double for a 6-1 Raiders lead.

Lisbon threatened one more time, loading the bases in the seventh. Flaherty watched as Kramer hustled from her left-field position for a show-string catch to end it, handing the Greyhounds their first loss against three wins.

Waterman went 5 1/3 innings for the win, striking out seven and permitting six hits. Flaherty (1 2/3 innings, one strikeout, two walks, one hit) earned the save.

Fairbanks went the distance for Lisbon with two strikeouts and one walk against 11 Oak Hill hits. Brittany Norman, Fairbanks and Russo were a combined 6-for-13 at the plate, with the rest of the lineup struggling to a 2-for-19 showing.

Softball ball isolated on white background

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