BY JOHN DUBOIS
Field conditions resulted in the Salt Fork Storm being put in the unique position of being the home team while playing on the road in a regular season game.
What began as an unusual day for the Storm turned into a breakout performance as Salt Fork jumped out to a big early lead and defeated the Westville Tigers 18-1 in five innings.
Freshman Lexi Smith was 3-for-3 with six RBI’S, sophomore Nicole Weston drove in four with a grand slam, and fellow freshman and winning pitcher Logan Sanford had a two-run home run and three RBI’S.
“Our field just hasn’t held up very well from all the rain and I just couldn’t see anyway we could play the game at home today,” said Salt Fork coach Kali Ford. “It was such a beautiful day and with all the cancellations that we really wanted to play today and Westville was nice enough to let us come to their field and play as the home team. It’s important for us to play as often as possible as we are a very young team overall and we are still building.”
The Storm drew eight walks in the bottom of the first and scored five times without a hit. Olney Central Community College signee Carson Richardson relieved starter Kylie Lesko and was able to get out of the inning without further damage.
“We really didn’t come into the game looking to be that patient at the plate, it just happened that way for us,” Ford said. “We talk a lot about hitting good pitches in the zone and did a very nice job of being patient taking some early walks which was a very good start for us.”
Smith would single home a run with the bases loaded to make it 6-0 in the bottom of the second, which set the stage for Weston.
“You do get a spark from a grand slam because it is such a rare thing,” said Ford. “We don’t try to swing for home runs, we swing for base hits. Nicole was able to drive that ball and anytime you can get a grand slam it is obviously a great thing for your team.”
The Storm would also get RBI singles from Kaylee McFadden and Lea Hall and held a 12-0 lead going into the bottom of the third.
Smith would drive home a pair before Sanford, batting ninth in the lineup, hit a deep shot to left center to make the score 16-0.
“Logan had back surgery she had to deal with earlier this year,” Ford said. “As a freshman she gets a little nervous in games sometimes, but she is focused on getting on base and with Peyton Meade she gives a strong pair of pitchers. We have our days here and there at the plate, but we have been getting contributions top to bottom in our lineup.”
Smith would strike again in the bottom of the fourth driving in her final two runs to make the score 18-0. The Tigers were able to get on the board in the top of the fifth. Senior Bobbi Morris had two hits for Westville.
The win also avenges a 13-12 loss to the Tigers on April 8th.
“We hit well in that first game against Westville, but we didn’t play very good defense,” Ford said. “I told our team coming into this game that defense was the key today to whether we would win or lose. We have worked and worked on defense. We have some players who are going to hit, but defensively we make things harder than they have to be which puts pressure on our offense. We played much better defense today than we have previously this season.”
The Tigers return to action Wednesday at Oakwood and they are now 9-7 overall and 7-4 in the Vermilion Valley Conference.
The Storm move to 9-4, 7-2 VVC and have games scheduled everyday this week beginning today with a home game against Schlarman Academy.