By Dennis Glade
The Washington softball team is playing its best ball of the season, and senior Allexis Lemon has been the catalyst.
Lemon allowed one hit, struck out 13 and added two extra base hits in Washington’s 11-0 six-inning victory over Shoals Monday evening at the Sports Complex.
Washington leadoff hitter Mattie Graber started the game with a single, and after stealing second, she scored the game’s first run on Kristin Waggoner’s errant throw to third on the second stolen base attempt of the inning.
After an Ashley Hayes groundout, Lemon doubled off the left centerfield wall, and freshman Shyla Sama took her place as the runner at second. Paige Hawthorne scored Sama on an RBI double and Washington had a 2-0 lead after one inning.
“She’s (Lemon) hit the ball pretty hard, and so has Paige (Hawthorne),” said Washington coach Alan Lemon.
Washington scored two more runs in the third inning on a throwing error by Kristie Bradley and an RBI double by Kerstin Burks making the advantage 4-0.
Meanwhile, Lemon was unhittable. Lemon struck out two Shoals batters in five of the six innings she pitched and in two of the innings she struck out the side. The senior lost the perfect game in the top of the fifth inning when Shoals starting pitcher Leslie Hart connected on a leadoff single.
“That’s the hardest I’ve seen her throw for a while,” Lemon said. “She’s been hitting the ball hard anyway, and we’ve been working on her changeup and its coming.”
The Hatchets pushed the lead to 6-0 when they scored two runs on zero hits and Shoals committed two errors in the fifth inning. Shoals had difficulty catching the ball all day, with five total errors.
In the bottom of the sixth, Washington put Shoals out of its collective misery with five runs to end the game prematurely after five-and-a-half innings when the Hatchets scored five runs on four hits and the deciding blow was a Hawthorne bases clearing double to left field.
With eight games remaining in the season, Lemon can see a difference in his star pitcher a year after the devastating injury that ended her 2012 season.
“The Lawrenceville game is when her arm went numb last season, and that was her last game of the season,” Lemon said. “She’s above her strikeouts from last year, and hitting much better than she did last year.”
Monday’s win was just the start of a very difficult week for Washington. The Hatchets will play each of the next four days with two games at home and two on the road.
“We’re rolling right now,” Lemon said. “These kids went through a couple hard years, and they know what it takes. They know if they show up and they’re not ready to play they can be beat any night. You come out here and make five or six errors – that’s the way it is. If Allexis (Lemon) isn’t ready to throw, we’ll be in trouble.”
Shoals 000 000 x – 0 1 5
Washington 202 025 x 11 11 0
Lemon and Hawthorne; Hart and Waggoner.
3B: (W) Lemon. 2B: (W) Lemon, Hawthorne, Burks