By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Everyone expected Shady Spring’s home game with James Monroe Tuesday to be a classic.
And it was.
For 4 1/2 innings.
A solid pitching duel between Shady all-stater Kate Snodgress and JMHS standout Mikayla Wickline ended when Wickline left the game with an ankle injury.
The Tigers took advantage of her absence by scoring six runs in the bottom of the frame — four on a grand slam by Sierra Richmond — and Snodgress did the rest for a 6-0 victory.
“It was definitely going to come down to who blinked first,” Shady coach Nikki Mackey-Hall said. “I really hate it that Wickline got hurt.”
So did Mavericks coach Greg Wickline.
“They were both pitching good. It was going to be whoever got on who first, or who made the first error,” he said.
Mikayla Wickline, a senior right-hander, had checked the Tigers on two singles through the first four innings. She struck out nine and did not walk a batter.
Class AAA No. 10 Shady had had just one player to reach second base against her, MacKenzie Milam, who had singled and took second when the ball was misplayed in left field.
But her day ended after she grounded out to second to lead off the fifth inning. Jogging back from first base to the dugout, she stepped in a small hole and tweaked her ankle.
She returned to the mound in the bottom of the inning, but after a few warm-up pitches, returned to the dugout.
“Mikayla thought she was going to be OK, but it was her push foot that she hurt,” said Greg Wickline, her cousin. “She tried, but it was just too painful for her.”
Shortstop Rebecca Ratliff, who had beaten the Tigers 12-10 in a nine-inning slugfest last season, took over for Wickline and immediately got into trouble.
Michelle Snodgress’s pop-up was dropped by an infielder, and Ratliff walked both Alexis Coalson and McKenzie Severt to load the bases.
Richmond then ripped a shot over the fence in left-center to make it 4-0.
It was her third homer of the campaign.
“I’d never hit a grand slam before,” the junior said. “She threw it straight down the middle, at the right speed. I knew it was gone when it left the bat.”
Richmond, normally the left fielder, batted leadoff as a designated hitter because of a leg injury.
“We didn’t even know if Sierra would play today, but she stayed strong,” Shady coach Nikki Mackey-Hall said. “We didn’t play her in the field, but we definitely knew to keep her bat in there. She showed what her bat is worth to us.”
The barrage continued as Kelsey Robertson singled, Alexis DeMoss walked and Milam stroked a base hit that was misplayed for the Mavericks’ third error of the game.
Robertson scored on the error, and DeMoss later raced home on a wild pitch.
While the Class AA No. 5 Mavericks’ pitchers had their problems, it was smooth-sailing for Katie Snodgress.
She finished with a two-hitter, striking out eight and not walking a batter.
Wickline singled in the second inning and was stranded at second, while Bailee Jackson doubled in the third and was thrown out at home while trying to advance on a wild pitch.
“My curve ball and rise ball were working,” she said. “We have a really good defensive and offensive team, and just knowing they have my back helps.
“We were excited to play James Monroe because they are one of the best teams.”
Mackey-Hall wasn’t surprised by Snodgress’s strong performance.
“Katie is always on it. I don’t know if I’ve seen her pitch a bad game this year,” the first-year coach said. “She knows what she has to do and she does it.”
Michelle Snodgress fired a two-hitter in the nightcap, striking out eight batters for a 10-2 victory and a doubleheader sweep.
Katie Snodgress homered, doubled and drove in two runs. Autumn Kauff had two hits and three RBIs, while Milam had two hits and Michelle Snodgress drove in two.
Jackson and Samantha Ferguson had singles for the Mavericks. Ferguson drove in both runs.
Shady Spring (14-2) will host Wyoming East at 5:30 p.m. today. James Monroe (17-3) returns home to meet Independence on Thursday.
Shady Spring 6, James Monroe 0
JM: 000 000 0 — 0 2 3
SS: 000 060 x — 6 5 1
JM: Mikayla Wickline, Rebecca Ratliff (5) and Kelsie Gillespie, SS: Katie Snodgress and MacKenzie Severt. WP — Snodgress. LP — Ratliff. Hitting — JM: Bailee Jackson 1-3 (2b), Wickline 1-2, SS: Sierra Richmond 2-4 (hr, 4 rbi, r), Kelsey Robertson 1-4 (r), MacKenzie Milam (2-3), Michelle Snodgress (r), Alexis Coalson (r), Severt (r).
Shady Spring 10, James Monroe 2 (5 innings)
JM: 000 20 — 2 2 2
SS: 035 2x — 10 11 1
JM: Rebecca Ratliff and Kelsey Christian, Jenna Hancock (4), SS: Michelle Snodgress and McKenzie Severt. WP — Snodgress. LP — Ratliff. Hitting — JM: Bailee Jackson 1-3, Samantha Ferguson 1-2 (2 RBI), SS: Katie Snodgress 2-3 (2B, HR, 2 RBI), MacKenzie Milam 2-3 (RBI), Autumn Kauff 2-2 (3 RBI), McKenzie Severt 1-1 (2 RBI), Michelle Snodgress 1-2 (2 RBI), Alexis Coalson 1-2, Sierra Richmond 1-3, Kelsey Robertson 1-2.
Records: Shady (14-2), JM (17-3).