The Worthington Kilbourne High School softball team has had a strong one-two punch in the circle this season.
Junior left-hander Manda Cash had her best performance of the season April 23 when she struck out 22 batters and allowed just one hit in 11 innings in a 3-2 win over visiting Dublin Jerome in an OCC-Cardinal Division contest.
The Wolves scored the winning run on a hit-and-run play. Freshman Sydney Warinner hit a fly ball to center field that was dropped, allowing senior third baseman Sarah Adams to score from first base.
"(Cash) was just outstanding," said coach John Warinner, whose team was 14-2 overall and 7-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Hilliard Darby on April 30. "Jerome scored both of their runs in the sixth inning when we made two errors."
Through 14 games, Cash was 6-1 with a 1.10 ERA and Adams, a right-hander, was 7-0 with a 0.31 ERA.
"We expected our pitching to do well and those two girls have been dominant," Warriner said. "They've done everything we've asked them to do."
While it is common for coaches to rotate pitchers between games, Warinner often rotates Cash and Adams during a game to keep the opposing hitters off balance.
"I think we're a good, dynamic duo," Cash said. "We work well together and complement each other. The way the ball comes out of our hands, with her being right-handed and me left-handed, makes the batters address something new in the middle of the game."
According to Adams, she and Cash have the same repertoire of pitches, with one exception.
"She has a pitch I don't have and it's a riseball," Adams said. "She has a killer rise. But what throws the hitters off more than anything is just the different angles from where the pitches are released."
In addition to pitching, Warinner has been pleased with his team's defense, but he would like to see its hitting improve.
"We've been very inconsistent hitting-wise," he said. "It's actually been a little disappointing, but we're winning, as of now, and we haven't really hit the ball well, so maybe we'll get that fixed and peak at the right time.
"Plus, it sure would be nice for Sarah and Manda to get some run support so they wouldn't have to feel the weight on their shoulders every game."
Adams doesn't seem fazed by the lack of offense.
"I like playing the close, tight games because that keeps you motivated and focused for every pitch," she said. "Every pitch could be the difference in those types of games, so you focus on hitting your spots."
Kilbourne was averaging 4.9 runs through 16 games, but that average was inflated by a 17-0 win over Watkins Memorial on April 2 and a 14-1 win over Lancaster on April 20. The only other game in which the Wolves scored more than five runs was an 8-3 win over Darby on April 18, and they scored three or fewer runs in eight games.
"We definitely need to score more runs, but we're all struggling with certain pitches and we need to be more confident and a little more focused on our pitch selection," Cash said. "A few more runs would be a tremendous help."
Through 16 games, Cash had a team-high .510 batting average as the leadoff hitter. Adams, who bats third in the order, was hitting .491. According to Warinner, junior second baseman Kristen Rossi has been hitting well in the No. 2 hole and junior first baseman Miranda Adams has been a strong clean-up hitter.
"Miranda had a great weekend when we went 3-0 in (the Lancaster Classic on April 20)," Warinner said. "She was 7-for-10 with two doubles, a home run and six RBI. She was 2-for-3 with a home run when we beat (New Concord) John Glenn 3-0, was 3-for-4 with two doubles when we beat Lancaster 14-1 and was 2-for-3 when we beat a good Wheelersburg team 3-2. She had two RBI in each game.
"But overall, other than our top four, we need to start picking it up some. We need to be more aggressive on the bases and put pressure on the defense with our bats and legs."
Cardinals struggling to bunch wins together
Thomas has been having trouble winning consistently.
In fact, entering the week, the only time the Cardinals had won consecutive games since winning three of their first four contests occurred April 20, when they defeated Ready 6-4 and beat New Albany 8-7.
Thomas was 8-6 overall and 4-2 in the OCC-Central before playing Dublin Coffman on April 30.
The Division I district tournament draw will be held, Sunday, May 5, with first-round games being held May 14.
Next week is the final week of the regular season.