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Lady Hitters blast the defending champs in softball opener

  • HERE IT COMES: Thela Johnson of the Lady Hitters delivers a pitch in this file photo. The Lady Hitters slammed the defending champions, Bommer G. Operators, in the opening game of the New Providence Softball Association this past weekend, 18-8. FILE

Guardian Sports Reporter

Published: May 13, 2013

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Thela Johnson and the Lady Hitters came out swinging on the opening night of the New Providence Softball Association’s (NPSA) 2013 season, as they banged out two in-the-park home-runs, and batted around, to send a strong message to the other female teams in the league.

The Lady Hitters couldn’t have asked for a better start to their season, spanking the defending champions in the league’s opener on Saturday evening. Johnson led her team from the mound, and they posted an 18-8 win over the Bommer G. Operators. The 10-run victory is the explosive start the team was looking for.

Johnson yielded four walks, and drove in three runs from the plate. Her fourth-inning triple came minutes after Shera Woodside’s two-run double, which scored Asheran Roberts and Shatyna Stuart. Woodside, the cousin of Johnson, finished 2-for-2 at the plate. Melinda Bastian, who is the sister of Woodside, and Johnson both scored three runs.

Bastian said: “This is a great start to the season, a positive one for the team. We knew the Lady Operators were not going to come and give us the game. We had to play hard for it so that’s what we did. That’s not the same team from last year, they have a lot of new young players so at first we were just trying to feel everything out. As you can see, in the second inning, our bats came alive. We were hitting better and playing better defense. This is just the first game and there are a lot of things we will have to work on when we meet other teams, but we are ready.”

The Lady Hitters scored seven runs in the second inning and eight in the fourth. Bastian was the only one to score in the first inning. The Operators’ bats didn’t come alive until the third inning. By that time, they were already down eight runs. Four runs came across home plate in the third inning for the Operators.

With bases loaded in the first, Johnson buckled down, striking out Jelice Darling to end the inning. She came back in the second and sent Nicole Bastian and Helena Curry to the dugout on strikes, and her teammates took care of Akia Rose, tagging her out on her way to second base. The bottom part of the line-up for the Lady Operators seemed to be the weakest and Johnson took full advantage of that. She wasted no time in sending the last four batters back to the dugout.

Tyrice Curry, who was moved from third base to the pitcher’s mound in the fourth, scored two runs for the Operators. Michelle Thompson scored twice as well.

“We knew that it was going to be a tough game, knowing that this is a new and young team and most of us are playing together for the first time,” said Thompson. “The biggest challenge now is staying focused, and encouraging our new team members. We don’t want them to be discouraged just because we got beat in the season opener. The season is long and we will get better with play. All we have to do is believe in each other and play together as a team.”

Jodie Clarke and Antonia Simmons were the other scorers for the Operators. Johnson was the winning pitcher and Diva Burrows was tagged with the loss.

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