BY RAY SCHAEFER
FOR THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
OLIVE HILL A one-word summary was all Sara Hieneman and Haven Layne needed.
It was an appropriate three letters. Hieneman, Layne and the rest of Russell’s softball team enjoyed Monday's 17-2, four-inning season-opening win over West Carter on the Lady Comets’ field.
Hieneman enjoyed “just trying to work out different things, work out our swings, work out our plays.
“We just had fun,” she said.
Layne said such lighthearted amusement was the result of “theatmospherearound us,” but there were multiple sources of merriment, at least if you were a Russell rooter.
Start with the 12 runs the Lady Devils scored their first two at-bats. Hieneman's threerun home run to left in the second off Karianna Back led an eight-run explosion.
“It was great,” Hieneman said. “I was just relaxed and trying to see the ball well. I just swung hard, and the ball just went out.”
The inning before, Russell converted two of West Carter’s three errors into four runs.
There was much more: Alexis Maynard’s two-run homer to center, part of a four-run fourth; right fielder Grace Osborn's two hits; left fielder Ali Hartman’s two RBI; and catcher Camryn Ratliff’s two-run triple.
Russell coach Dave Wheeler understandably couldn’t limit himself to a single-syllable synopsis.
“Haven came out, and she was hitting her spots,” Wheeler said. “She had a really nice drop ball going, she had a nice change and curve … It was a team win.”
Hieneman holds the school career home run record. Monday's shot was her 23rd.
“I said, ‘Hey, sit back and let the ball get deep,’” Wheeler said. “She probably hit that ball 230 (feet), 235.”
West Carter’s night — and possibly the whole season — could be described this way: adjusting. The Lady Comets won’t have projected starters Becca Nolen and Madison Hanshaw because of anterior cruciate knee ligament tears they suffered during basketball season. “We’re starting five freshmen who have never played in the varsity position they've been put in,” Lady Comets coach Nate Shelton said. “They’re just going to have some growing pains to start out with.”
The Lady Comets avoided the shutout when Isabell Shavers doubled home Back in the third. A wild pitch scored Adkins in the fourth.