Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
SOLON – Following the loss of three of its top four hitters to graduation Solon has relied on a lineup full of fresh faces during its strong start to the season.
It was one of those first-year starters that came up with the big hit to give Solon an early in a showdown with WAMAC rival Clear Creek Amana on Wednesday night.
Then it was one of the familiar faces for the Spartans that made that lead stand up.
Eighth-grader Jada Buffington had a key two-run double in a five-run Solon third inning and sophomore Kayla West spun a complete game five hitter as Solon downed Clear Creek Amana 5-1 in Solon.
“Since a lot of seniors left we had to have a lot of people step up this year,” West said. “A lot of people have stepped up, the young players have come in and done amazing and our leaders have been great.”
Solon (12-5) did all of its damage in the third inning, the big blow in the five-run explosion a double to the right center field fence by Buffington.
All four RBI for the Spartans on Wednesday came from freshmen or eighth graders batting in the bottom half of the Solon order.
“Those young girls were great tonight and they’ve been good all season so it’s not surprising at all,” Solon coach Erin White said. “Those kids may have a bad at bat from time to time but they are mature enough that they are coachable and they try everything and they will have a great second at bat.”
The five-run proved to be more than enough for West who improved to 9-3 on the season.
West allowed five singles and walked three while striking out a season-high 10 in the complete game.
“My screwball was working really well to get ahead of people,” West said. “After that I just kind of mixed it up and tried to keep them off balance.”
Solon had three singles in the first two innings but Clear Creek Amana starter Raina Henze stranded runners at second in both innings.
The breakthrough came in the third.
The lone Solon senior Madison Rogers led off the inning with a single and singles by Skylar Stookey and Taylor Moore loaded the bases.
Solon took a 1-0 lead when Clear Creek Amana couldn’t handle a groundball from West down the third base line.
Buffington broke the game open when she lined a double into the right-center field gap.
“There were two outs and that is always in my head to get the runners in,” Buffington said. “First she gave me a change up so I was waiting for an off-speed pitch and I got one right down the middle and just swung.”
Eighth grader Ava Stebral plated a run with an RBI ground out and freshman Monet Barnhouse capped the inning with a two-out RBI single.
“The young kids I feel like if you watch them play they have so much fun,” White said. “They love it, they love to play the game.”
West made sure the five runs were enough.
She wiggled out of two-on no-out jams in both the fifth and sixth innings while allowing just one run.
Grace Bedford led off the fifth with a single and Lydia Banwart followed with a walk.
Karsyn Stratton plated Bedford with a sacrifice fly but West got Abby Crow swinging to end the inning.
“She is just a competitor,” White said of West. “She has that drive in her and that is fun to coach.”
Ainsley Schrock and Danielle Wnek started the Clear Creek Amana sixth with back-to-back singles but West followed with consecutive strikeouts and Stookey picked Wnek off first with snap throw to end the inning.
“I’ve always been that pitcher that really likes that situation,” West said. “I really like the pressure.”
Clear Creek Amana (11-8) got a leadoff single from Bedford to start the seventh but West retired the next three batters to end the game.
Rogers went 3-for-4 with a run to pace Solon while Stookey and Moore each had two hits.
“It’s been really fun,” West said. “I wasn’t for sure how we were going to be since everyone is young but it is turning out really well and we are having a lot of fun together and getting along.”
Clear Creek Amana 000 010 0 – 1 5 2
Solon 005 000 x – 5 10 0
W – Kayla West L – Raina Henze
2B – SOL: Jada Buffington