VANCEBURG Joe Hampton is adjusting nicely to his newest title.

Lewis County's softball team is helping their first-year coach immensely. Friday was the latest example — a 13-0, five-inning shutout of Russell.

You know Hampton for his days leading the Lions on the basketball court in the Lewis County Middle School gym fans called the “Hampton Inn.” He said softball is “totally different.”

“I didn't really know how it would be,” Hampton said. “The competition's what I enjoy, the chess match that goes on between teams and coaches … I'm enjoying this more than I expected, I'll put it that way.”

Lewis County improved to 11-1 overall and most importantly, 3-0 in the 63rd District. Sophomore Kayla Sullivan is glad her preseason fears have gone unrealized.

“We started out, I thought we weren't going to be very good,” Sullivan said, “but we grew as a team, and we came together and played really well so far.”

COVID-19 protocols kept the Lady Lions off the diamond from April 20-26. Then, a secondary scare — Tuesday's 2-1 home win in nine innings over Bath County.

“Bath outplayed us. We outscored them,” Hampton said.

Lewis County sophomore pitcher Emily Cole stymied her foes Friday — she allowed just one hit and struck out 11. She needed just 52 pitches (and 30 for strikes).

“She's a great pitcher,” Lewis County sophomore Sarah Paige Weddington said. “Everybody knows. She's just a sophomore. It's awesome.”

Cole was nevertheless mildly upset because she was perfect for 3 1/3 innings.

“I always think about my perfect games,” Cole said. “Sometimes I jinx it.”

The Lady Lions had power aplenty: Sullivan, 2-for-4 with a double; designated player Aubry Hicks, 2-for-3, a double and four runs batted in; and Weddington, 2-for-2 with a double.

Some of Russell's (9-5, 0-3) woes were self-induced. Two miscues in the first inning helped the Lady Lions plate six runs; and another pair in the second helped make the score 11-0. (The Lady Devils had seven errors for the game.)

“Initially in the season, we didn't have these issues,” Russell coach Nikki Beek said. “Now, they're popping up here and there at costly times.”

Russell opened the fifth frame with Lilly Holland's infield single. (She stole second and took third on an error.) Cole plunked Josie Atkins, but she evermore recovered by striking out Sam Roark, Allyson Rulen and Raegan Osborn to finish the game.

RUSSELL    000    00    —    0    1    7

LEWIS CO.    650    2x    —    13    12    0

Patel, Smith (3) and Holland; Cole and K. Tackett. WP-Cole. LP-Patel. 2B-Sullivan (LC); Hicks (LC), Weddington (LC).

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