CHILLICOTHE – Wicked streaks of lightning pierced the night sky Thursday night at VA Memorial Stadium, but by the first inning of a contest between Chillicothe and River Valley, the electricity had pumped its way into the left arm of junior pitcher Ursula Hussey.
The Cavaliers’ southpaw earned the first win of her varsity career, throwing all seven innings of a 4-2 Chillicothe victory — the team’s first in 2015.
“I’ll tell you what, what an unbelievable performance,” Chillicothe coach Bud Lytle said. “I told her after the game that I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a kid make such a transformation in a short period of time. She’s struggled this year throwing strikes, and our goal tonight was no more than four walks. She ended up with three, and that’s the first thing she told me when she walked off the field after the win.”
To go along with the three walks, Hussey (1-0) struck out four batters, gave up four hits and didn’t allow an earned run.
“In seven innings of work, that’s not bad at all, especially when we’ve been looking for a pitcher to come in and take control of this team,” Lytle said. “Tonight was for sure a team effort, but it all goes back to Ursula in the circle. That’s the bottom line. I gave her the game ball tonight, and she earned every bit of it.”
While Hussey made a living on the mound, junior Haylee Jo Large cashed her checks at the plate.
Large went 3-3 at the dish — making her 8-8 in her last eight plate appearances — scored a run, stole three bases and had a superb game at catcher.
“What can you say about Haylee Large,” Lytle said. “I don’t think she’s given up a stolen base all season long behind the plate. I think she’s thrown out every runner that’s tried to steal on her. And then you look at her with the bat and she’s now hitting over .700 after coming into tonight at .643. She’s that type of player, though. She’s seeing the ball extremely well right now.”
Freshman Audrey Corzine drew a walk with one out in the bottom of the second inning for the Cavaliers. Hussey then laced a single into the outfield grass that went under the glove of River Valley’s left fielder, allowing Corzine to cross the plate. Hussey would then later score on a throwing error to make it 2-0 Cavaliers.
The Raiders (4-1) would answer in the top of the third with a run of their own, cutting the deficit to 2-1, only to see Chillicothe stretch its lead back to two runs at 3-1 in the bottom half of the inning thanks to yet another River Valley’ error.
The Cavs would then see their lead go to 4-1 via Hayley Woodbridge, who knocked in Large with an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth inning. River Valley would manage to get one run back in the top of the sixth but failed to muster up another score, in part due to a spectacular shoestring catch in the sixth that saved two runs from right fielder Kenzie Rhodes.
The win was the first career victory for Lytle as the head coach of the Cavaliers.
“It’s not so much about getting the monkey off of my back but getting the monkey off my team’s back,” Lytle said. “I’m so happy for the kids. When you start out 0-4, the entire team starts questioning themselves. Are we that good? Can we win any games? But tonight gives us some credibility. We weren’t perfect, and we had a couple of mistakes that we can fix, but overall, we’re extremely happy.”
Chillicothe scored its four runs on six hits and committed three errors. River Valley managed two scores on four hits while committing four miscues.
After Large, Hussey finised 1-2 at the plate with a run scored while Woodbridge went 1-3, logging the lone RBI of the contest.
The Cavaliers will next be in action at 5 p.m. Friday night at home against East Clinton.
“We’re excited to play tomorrow,” Lytle said. “When you win a 4-2 game, that takes guts. I think you’re seeing a lineup that has been solidified itself.”