The scoreboard was dead, but the Lady Patriots supplied plenty of their own electricity. With the big board off after a lightning strike, Sandy Creek kept the umpires busy keeping score in a 16-1 four-inning win over Our Lady of Mercy Monday afternoon.
“That’s what you want to do,” said new Sandy Creek coach Nick Pou.
Playing in front a big crowd of friends and family for their home opener, the team shook off early nerves.
“I think everybody settled in and we started playing our game in the second, third, and fourth innings.”
It was sophomore Kaliyah Smith who did the leg work for the Patriots. Smith pitched four no-hit innings, allowing one run on an error when Mercy catcher Rachael Bryant scalded a ball to third that was too hot to handle, scoring Sophia Launay.
“Kaliyah’s tough. She’s got one of the best fastballs in the state,” said Pou. “When she’s on, she’s hard to hit.”
Mercy pitcher Nicole Lomonaco held her own, but the Patriot offense hit the ball hard and took advantage of defensive miscues.
Sandy Creek opened the scoring with a lone run in the first on a Lily Metsker RBI single. After a scoreless second, they plated seven runs in the bottom of the third. Samia Rice singled home Jillian Davis and Smith, Makenzie Gay tripled in a run, Metsker doubled home a run, Callie Dow drove in run seven, and Dow and Abby McLemore raced home to make it 8-1 on a wild pitch.
“Keep playing until they tell us to stop,” Pou told his team of the lack of scoreboard.
They did just that, exploding for eight runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to invoke the run rule.
Smith led off with a single and scored on a Jessica Wheeler base knock. Metsker, McLemore, and Olivia Haralson each drove in a run to put the game on the brink of an early ending.
Back up to the plate as the Patriots batted around, Smith flexed the other side of her game to end the night. With McLemore, Grace Arquette, and Haralson on base, she blasted the ball over the centerfielder’s head for a walk-off, inside-the-park grand slam.
“She’s a stud and she’s going to be really good,” said Pou. “She’s starting to get the leadership side of things, too. That’s one reason we have her at leadoff, we want her to see the plate as many times as we can.”
While Smith grabbed the headlines, throughout the lineup every Patriot chipped in, and that’s what Pou wants, but buy-in means more than just on the diamond for the team.
“We look at is as everybody on our team contributes somehow, whether it’s putting importance on warming somebody up or charting in the dugout,” he said. “Everybody’s doing something.”
At 3-0 early in the year, the Patriots have some much-needed momentum for a young team.
“It’s just a good lead-in to give our girls some confidence that they haven’t had in a while,” Pou said.