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Lady Knights taking care of business
Submitted by Shane McOwen on Wed, 03/15/2017 - 12:00am
Westview to expand depth once transfers become eligible
Westview softball got off to a hot start and has navigated a difficult freedom schedule without a large portion of its full team.
The Lady Knights are 8-3, including an undefeated showing in the Carl Hayden Invitational tournament to open the season.
Westview’s hot start has almost been accomplished with one hand tied behind its back. The thin Lady Knights’ roster will remain so until April 1, when five transfer students will become eligible, instantly boosting the team’s depth across the board. Westview’s starting center fielder has also missed two weeks because of injury.
Westview coach Larry Wonner said he’s pleased with his team’s performance this season, and expects it to only improve once the incoming transfers are cleared to play and the depth is ramped up.
“I’m very pleased with what we’re doing right now with limited [availability],” Wonner said. “It’s people stepping up for us and doing a great job.”
The Lady Knights have received key contributions all season long from seniors Ceairra Perez, Devan Dickson, Alexandra McCutcheon and Madison Matthews. Perez, Dickson and McCutcheon are each hitting .500 or above, while Matthews trails closely behind at .472. Perez and Matthews each have hit four home runs in the early portion of the season.
Wonner praised the contributions of Dickson and Matthews, both newcomers to the team. Dickson is new to the school after spending her junior season in Florida. She’s also added her pitching services to the team, providing helpful depth to the circle.
“Just having [Dickson] as the second pitcher, that’s really helped,” Wonner said. “Madi, when she hits the ball, it just jumps off her bat. Those two additions have really helped us. Without those two, I don’t know where we’d be.”
Perez and McCutcheon, part of the old Westview softball guard, have come back with strong seasons of their own. Perez leads the team in extra-base hits, runs, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and is tied for the lead in hits. She also provides exceptional defense at shortstop. McCutcheon is 5-1 on the mound in seven appearances, and sports a 2.26 ERA. She’s struck out 52 batters in 34 innings pitched, while walking only seven.
The Lady Knights hit a snag against Phoenix Pinnacle, the fifth-rated team in the country in the Maxpreps.com Xcellent 25 national rankings.
It wasn’t in the cards for Westview that day, as Pinnacle put up double-digit runs through two innings March 7 on the way to a 21-0 victory.
“I think it was in our heads,” Wonner said. “We knew who we were playing. We made a couple of mistakes in the first inning, and a team like that, they just jump on them. After that, it was all downhill.”
The Lady Knights showed resolve in their next game against Scottsdale Desert Mountain — not even a full 24 hours following the big loss. Westview controlled the game the entire way, winning 7-2.
“We recovered nicely,” Wonner said. “[We talked about] putting that one away [because] we had two more games in the week. We did a really good job coming back from that. This one was a big win for us for all that’s going on.”
Westview lost a heartbreaker at home March 10 against Chandler Basha. After coming from behind to tie the game and eventually forcing extra innings, Westview surrendered four runs in the top of the eighth to lose 8-4. Only two of Basha’s eight runs were earned.
Of Westview’s three losses, two have come in the seventh inning or later. Against Phoenix Mountain Pointe March 1, Westview scored four runs in the top of the seventh to take a 9-7 lead. Mountain Pointe answered in the bottom of the frame with three of its own for a walk-off win.
“We scored four runs in the top of the seventh to take a two-run lead, and then we basically kind of just gave it to them,” Wonner said. “That’s the only game I’ve been disappointed with how we played.”
After a week off of game action, Westview will take the field again March 17 in the inaugural Youngker Roughrider Classic. Following the tournament, Westview will have three power-points contests — at Phoenix Central, at Gilbert Highland and home against Mesa Desert Ridge — before opening region play with a two-game series against Tolleson.
“Our preseason schedule is tough. We’re looking at getting power points,” Wonner said. “We just have to get to region play and take care of business there.”
Shane McOwen can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ShaneMcOwen.
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