JM Inches Closer To Tourney Berth

Garcia, Lightner homer in 17-0 rout

Photo by Cody Tomer John Marshall’s Carli Lightner turns a double play as University runner Layne Assif (12) approaches second base during a regional game at Mylan Park on Tuesday. Looking on Lydia Knutsen (7).

MORGANTOWN–John Marshall wore out the base paths Tuesday at Mylan Park.

The Monarchs clubbed 18 hits in Game 1 of the Class AAA Region One Tournament and rolled past University, 17-0.

Lauren Garcia blistered a three-run home run in the first and Carli Lightner belted a grand slam in the second to set the tone.

In the fifth, the defending regional champions laced nine hits before even recording an out. The Monarchs plated seven runs in the frame.

Mack Hall and Anna Blake each turned in three hits in the victory.

“We are playing really well and this is probably the best hitting team we have ever had,” Monarchs coach Ed West said. “Our pitching is really good and our defense is really good but we have really been hitting the ball all year and I hope it continues.

“The home runs really set the tone for the game.”

Garcia limited the Hawks to two hits to pick up a win. The all-state hurler fired nine strikeouts and allowed no walks in five innings pitched.

“I was just glad we were able to get ahead because that gives me confidence,” Garcia said. “When you get the lead early you can just go out there and have fun and I was just throwing my curveball and it was working.”

Game 2 is slated for 5 p.m. tonight at John Marshall, and University coach Mindy Parks is hoping to change up the game plan.

“I might try a few things differently (today),” Parks said. “Maybe we will try a different pitcher, someone they haven’t seen. We’ll see. We have to strategize a little bit and we have to try to hit the ball because this was a tough loss.

“Once they got seven runs on the two home runs, it kind of took the life out of us. Their pitcher is really good, they have good hitters and they are just better.”

Anna Blake led off the game with a single, followed by a walk to Lydia Knutsen. After a Lightner strikeout, Garcia gave her squad a boost with a three-run shot over the right field fence.

“She threw me a pitch high and outside,” Garcia said. “I love those ones and I always take them the other way.”

In the second, Mack Hall drew a leadoff walk and Taylor Gray reached safely on a fielder’s choice. Anna Blake’s second single of the game loaded the bases and Lightner avenged her first inning strikeout by launching her first career grand slam and her fourth homer of the season.

“I just swung the bat because the first time I didn’t,” Lightner said. “She was also throwing me outside too and we work on hitting those pitches a lot.

“It feels really good to hit a grand slam, especially at regionals.”

The Monarchs scorched a pair of line drives to deep right field in the third as Gray delivered a two-run triple and Knutsen added a RBI triple to extend the lead to 10-0.

John Marshall batted around in the fifth before recording an out. Mack Hall had a double and a single in the frame.

Pinch-hitters Autumn Johnson and Stevie Boles each garnered RBI hits in the stanza.

Garcia plated two on a double to the right field fence and Abby Blake laced a RBI double, as well.

Also recording RBI knocks in the fifth were Lightner and Maddy Mayle.

The Monarchs can clinch their second straight regional title with a win tonight.