Offense did not seem to be a problem through the first six games of Clayton’s softball schedule. The Comets averaged double-figure scoring totals as they produced a 5-1 start to the season.
But Clayton wants more, so coach Britney Kudlawiec juggled the batting order a bit before her team faced Johnston County rival Corinth Holders Wednesday night. It worked.
The Comets rolled up 15 runs and 18 hits, grabbing a 15-8 victory over the Pirates. All nine batters in the Clayton lineup had a least one hit.
Kornie Blanchard, with two doubles and five runs batted in, and Erin Hollingsworth (4-for-4 from the No. 9 spot in the lineup) showed the way on a night heavy on offense.
The two teams combined for 30 hits and 23 runs.
“We changed up the lineup a bit tonight trying to get more consistent hitting throughout the lineup,” Kudlawiec said. “We had great focus and came out and produced throughout the lineup and put up 15 runs. To be a great team, you have to consistently score.”
The win over the Pirates kept Clayton rolling for the week. The Comets handed Harnett Central its first loss of the season by a 7-0 count Tuesday. Hannah Ryan struck out eight to get the win with four hits allowed and one walk issued. Kayla Marshburn and Blanchard had two hits each for the Comets.
The two wins upped the Comets’ scoring average to just more than a dozen runs per game.
On Wednesday, Clayton took a 3-0 lead in the first inning only to see the Pirates go ahead with four runs in the top of the second.
The Pirates (3-3 overall), who fell to Western Harnett in their Two Rivers 3A Conference opener on Tuesday night when the Eagles pushed across two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, upped their lead to 6-3 in the fourth before Clayton put together a seven-run frame in the fourth.
The Comets took advantage of one of the six Corinth Holders fielding errors of the night to pull even at 6-all on a ball hit by Ryan. Later in the frame, Bailey Perdue, Brianna Davis and Hollingsworth added RBI singles.
Hollingsworth had been batting in the sixth or seventh spot in the order before Wednesday’s game. The UNC Pembroke signee took to the new spot quite well with her four-hit effort.
“Erin told me at the beginning of the season that her goal was to become a more consistent hitting threat before she went to college,” Kudlawiec said. “And you can tell the work she’s put in to achieve that goal. She’s well on the way to becoming a big threat in the lineup for us.”
Lindsey Hodge, Mindy North, Taeya Moloney, Blanchard, Marshburn and Ryan all had two-hit nights for the Comets.
Kelsie Hocutt went 3-for-4 with four RBIs for Corinth Holders. Pirates Aiyana Campbell, Ashlyn Beithman and Kylie Keon also had two hits each.
Ryan got the win with five innings of relief work, allowing just one earned run.
“We’ve been very, very solid defensively and Hannah is pitching really well,” Kudlawiec said. “A coach couldn’t ask for much more than what we did tonight.”