Hammond picks up ninth win, Lady Hornets run-rule Nacogdoches

Apr. 12—HUNTSVILLE — Coming off a no-hitter from senior Jaelynn Duke, Huntsville turned the ball over the another senior in the circle.

Rylie Hammond made her District 16 debut against Nacogdoches, in the Lady Hornets' penultimate home game.

Hammond opened the game with a flyout but then got off to some shaky ground. A single by Gizelle Ojeda was followed by a two-run blast by LT Garrett to make it a 2-0 game before the game's second out.

Then Hammond settled in.

"I shook it off. If it was going to happen, it was going to happen," Hammond said. "I couldn't get in my head. I had to stay strong and have my team's back."

Hammond kept the Lady Dragons scoreless from there, as the Lady Hornet offense stung for 13 runs to get the five-inning victory.

Coming into this season Huntsville had questions at the secondary pitching position, with Duke as the lone pitcher. With the plans of using Emily Zunker, an injury sidelined her forcing somebody to step up.

"It is wonderful to have another pitcher in this situation. If we were to get into a trouble spot, to have three pitchers instead of two or one is wonderful. When we were coming into the year, we didn't know what we were going to do," Huntsville head coach Morgan Bryan said. "Being able to have that and see it out of her is wonderful. She stepped up and said she would do it for us."

Now, Hammond sits with a 9-0 record in 12 appearances.

"I would have never imagined it. I stopped pitching as a freshman, and this year we needed somebody to step up. Just stepping up to help everybody out has helped me blossom," Hammond said.

After a rain delay shifted the Lady Hornets game to Wednesday, the Lady Hornets found themselves in a slump. Huntsville tacked four hits in the game as they struggled to make in-game adjustments.

That was what Huntsville wanted to do against Nacogdoches and it worked.

After a lead-off single by Duke, and some wild base running, Huntsville saw itself with a deficit after one. Zunker grabbed a lead-off walk and a few bats later things were tied.

"I am proud of us and the way we hit. We wanted to come in and make adjustments with our hitting. We needed to refocus on that. We were frustrated after the last game. Seeing them come back and work hard on the day of prep was great. Being able to make adjustments in the box and not next-game adjustments was what we were looking for," Bryan said.

The real surge sparked in the bottom of the third. Back-to-back singles opened the frame and a throwing error on Nac gave Huntsville the lead. Jaz Enriquez ripped a single to make it a 4-2 game and Huntsville was off the races.

Only two Lady Hornets failed to get a hit, but only one failed to reach base. Duke went 3-4 at the dish with a home run that cleared both fences and bounced through the parking lot. Sophomore Chloe Sanders went a perfect 2-2 against Nac and drove in three runs after not getting the start and coming in for Kloee Lehman.

The Lady Hornets followed its four-hit performance with a 19-hit outing as they try to lock up another district title.

"They are resilient and are willing to make adjustments. We had talked about being an upper-level team and we were going to challenge them. They rose to the challenge this week because we wanted them to go in and think about those things and make the adjustments in a game," Bryan said.

As the season comes to a close, Huntsville remains the top team in the district. With Lufkin's 8-0 win over Dayton, the Lady Hornets still need a win to clinch the district title. Huntsville will look to do so at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday with a home game against Dayton.