LOGAN - Talk about setting the tone for a softball game.
Warren senior Hailey Murdock, leading off Wednesday's Southeastern Ohio Athletic League softball game against the host Logan Lady Chiefs, drilled a line-drive home run over the fence in left-center field.
The Lady Warriors tacked on two more opening-inning runs, then broke the game wide open with a seven-run fourth frame and dealt the Lady Chiefs a 10-0 conference setback at Lady Chiefs Field.
"That was (Murdock's) first career home run," Warren coach Jennifer Lynch revealed.
Murdock's circuit clout set the Lady Chiefs (1-3 overall, 0-1 SEOAL) to reeling, and the Purple & White never fully recovered. The game was called after five innings due to the 10-run-differential rule.
"I think we were a little rattled after the first inning," said Logan coach Jim Huntsberger. "In every scrimmage and game we've played so far, the first several innings were close. (The Lady Warriors) came out and were very aggressive, and it worked out well for them. I think we were a little shell-shocked at first."
After Murdock went yard, Warren manufactured two more opening-inning runs.
Kendra Lynch singled and Kylee Lynch reached on a fielder's choice, and a Logan miscue sent Kendra Lynch to third. Kylee Lynch stole second then, after a walk loaded the bases, Arriane Schetter drove in a run with a groundout and Kaylee Higgins chased home another with a sacrifice fly to center field.
It all set the stage for the Lady Warriors (1-3, 1-1) to earn their first victory of the season.
"We needed that win," coach Lynch stated. "We've started a little bit slow, but we put together some hits tonight and eliminated some of our mistakes."
Schetter, Warren's junior pitcher, hurled a five-hit shutout; she didn't allow a walk while striking out three batters and letting her defense do the job behind her. A third-inning Warren infield error helped the Lady Chiefs load the bases, but Schetter escaped unscathed to keep the shutout intact.
"Ari pitched a great game," coach Lynch praised. "She came back and fought and didn't let that get to her. She pitched well, and if we made a mistake she picked the team up on the mound. I was very happy with them tonight."
Twice the Lady Chiefs put together back-to-back singles - Grayce Huntsberger and Lainie Nakanishi in the second inning, and Alyssa Zaayer and Lexi McBride in the third - and both times Schetter rebuffed the Purple & White.
Schetter escaped the second inning with an infield double-play ground ball to third baseman Alexis Coffman. Then, after Logan loaded the bases with one out in the third, Schetter fielded Faith Freeman's hard comebacker to get a force play at the plate before Logan's Nicole Beck drilled a line drive at Murdock in center field for the final out.
Zaayer and McBride, the eighth and ninth hitters in the Logan order, "get on base with hits and we load the bases with one out," Huntsberger said, "and then (the Lady Warriors) get a hard ground ball and the pitcher makes a play and then Nicole smokes one right at their center fielder.
"At some point you have to get a key hit and make things happen and make your own breaks," he added. "You get kids on base and you have to get a hit, and we didn't. We have to do better at that."
The Lady Chiefs were shut out for a second-straight game. They lost 1-0 the previous evening at Berne Union when the Lady Rockets scored a walkoff run in the last of the seventh.
Warren then sent 11 batters to the plate in the fourth inning, getting six hits and taking advantage of two Logan physical errors - as well as a pair of costly mental miscues - to plate a game-busting seven runs.
The Lady Warriors, playing their first game in a week - like the Lady Chiefs, they were shut down due to weather - loaded the bases on a Coffman single, a Logan error on a sacrifice bunt, and a bunt single by Natalie Knowlton before Murdock singled home a run.
After a force play at the plate, a mental miscue resulted in what amounted to a Warren triple-steal, allowing Knowlton to score, then Logan let an infield pop-up drop untouched to re-load the bases.
Another Warren run scored when the Lady Chiefs dropped a fly ball in the outfield, then Schetter helped her own cause with a two-run double to the fence in right-center field and Higgins followed with an RBI single.
"Faith pitched pretty well after (the first inning) and gave us some chances to get outs, and then we didn't make plays," Huntsberger stated. "When you don't make plays and give extra outs to a team that's aggressive and hits the ball, that's what happens.
"We had mental errors and physical errors, and they capitalized on all of those things," he continued. "Sometimes you make an error and the next girl strikes out or pops up, but that didn't happen tonight - and that's a lot of credit to them. We were unable to get key outs and extended their innings. That's not what we had been so far this season."
Freeman struck out three and walked only one in taking the Logan pitching loss. Eight of Warren's 10 runs were unearned.
"They made the plays they needed on defense when the game was on the line, and we didn't," Huntsberger noted. "That was the difference in the game."
Murdock finished with her home run and single and two runs batted in, Schetter doubled and singled and drove in three runs, Kendra Lynch singled twice and Kylee Lynch, Douglas, Higgins, Coffman and Knowlton all added a single.
McBride had a pair of singles for the Lady Chiefs and Grayce Huntsberger, Nakanishi and Zaayer all chipped in their base hits. The 1-2-3-4 hitters in Logan's batting order went 0-for-11 while the 5-6-7-8-9 hitters were 5-of-10.