GATE CITY — Sometimes you have to play hurt.
Lately, John Battle’s softball squad has been compelled to do just that.
The Lady Trojans hammered out 15 hits — including home runs by Taylor Haworth and Abby Hensley — in an 8-3 Clinch Mountain District win at Gate City Tuesday.
Hensley (6-2) collected the complete-game victory despite being momentarily felled in the sixth by Kendra Daugherty’s hard line shot off her shin.
“I don’t know what I would do without my team behind me. I felt that if I (walked off the field), I would have let my team down. I didn’t want to do that,” said Hensley, whose two-run blast over center gave Battle the 6-1 edge in the third inning.
The loss of Trojans athletic director Kevin Perrigan, who died on April 7, is a dark cloud still lingering over the team. Some of coach Ike Anderson’s players were coached by Perrigan in basketball before he was sidelined by throat cancer. The memorial service was held last Wednesday.
Anderson thought the emotional climate at school didn’t excuse Tuesday’s four errors, but it partly explained them.
“We’d already had some difficulty getting outside and then we took two or three days off there. It’s an accumulation of things, I guess. (Perrigan) was a big figure at our school. He can’t be replaced,” said Anderson, who led Battle to a state runner-up finish in 2012.
The Lady Trojans compensated for the miscues by turning three double plays on the day. Two were opportunities created by Gate City baserunning errors.
Haworth, whose solo shot in the second put Battle up 2-0, went 3-for-4. She also stroked a double in the seventh inning. Brooke Rutherford was 3-for-5 with a double and two stolen bases for the Lady Trojans (6-2, 1-0).
Kaycee Casteel went 3-for-5 with a double and Tristan Blevins was 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs. Samantha Kibort had a two-RBI double.
Kaitlin Oakes had two hits for Gate City (6-3, 0-1). Brooke Spivey had a double. Starter Caitlyn McConnell (3-2) picked up the loss before handing pitching duties to Kasey Repass in the third.
“I think they wore our pitchers out. They battled consistently. I don’t know how many times we had a two-strike count and they fouled of five or six balls,” said Gate City coach Cara Noe.
Sports Writer George Thwaites is @KTNSptsThwaites on Twitter.