Edinburgh softball coach Autumn Humbaugh gives her only senior, Marissa Whitis, some very specific instructions.
Get on base ... every time.
Whitis, the Lancers’ lead-off hitter, took that job to heart Monday in the first round of the Hauser Sectional. She reached base all five times on three singles and two walks and scored five runs in Edinburgh’s 23-4 win against Greenwood Christian Academy.
Edinburgh (7-14) advances to today’s sectional semifinal at 7 p.m. against Southwestern (Shelby). Hauser and Morristown meet in the other semifinal at 5 p.m. The title game is Thursday at 7 p.m.
Whitis would love to experience a shot at a championship in her final season. She has spent this campaign in a leadership role for a young team that has brighter days ahead.
These, however, are Whitis’ final days of high school ball.
“I think we have a good chance (of winning a title),” said Whitis, who had two hits and two RBI during the Lancers’ 12-run second.
It would be a great way to end her career.
“I think there definitely was pressure on me this season to keep them calm and focused,” she said of her teammates. “But I’ve been close to the players in every grade.”
On Monday, the task was to play solid softball during a blow-out.
“I tried to remind my teammates to stay focused and to do what we needed to do,” she said.
The game got out of hand quickly.
The Cougars put a run on the board in the top of the first when Brianna Lawrence walked, stole second and scored on an error.
Edinburgh took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first with no hits as Greenwood Christian pitcher Roby Isabella walked five batters. Whitis and Bailey Woodall scored on wild pitches.
The game disintegrated in the bottom of the second. The Lancers scored 12 runs on four hits, six walks, two hit-batters and four errors. It was 14-1.
Greenwood Christian did score three runs in the top of the third when the Lancers helped out with a couple of errors. Isabella had the key hit, a hard single to right that went all the way to the fence when it was misplayed. Two runs scored on the play.
But Edinburgh added two more runs in the bottom of the third and then seven more in the fourth.
The game was halted by the 10-run rule after the top of the fifth.
Woodall handled the duties on the mound for the Lancers, and she didn’t allow an earned run.
“This was a good confidence booster for us,” Humbaugh said. “We know the rest of the tournament is going to be tougher. We’ve got to be mentally prepared.”
Humbaugh was glad to see Whitis playing some great ball at a key time of the season.
“She’s been such an important part of our team,” Humbaugh said.