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Weddington softball leans on pitching and defense, takes Game 1 vs. Northwest Guilford

Claire Lyerly expects Northwest Guilford to make some adjustments before facing Lyerly’s Weddington team on Thursday evening in Game 2 of the 4A West Regional best-of-three softball championship series.

If so, the Vikings will have to adjust the way they deal with Weddington pitcher Joella Thomas.

The Warriors’ sophomore ace tossed a one-hitter Tuesday night, struck out 16, and didn’t allow a runner past first base.

Meanwhile, Weddington got a first-inning run and made it stand for a 1-0 series-opening victory.

“Both teams will make some adjustments,” Lyerly said. “That’s what happens in a series like this.”

But, the Warriors’ coach added, “We’ve got a really good pitcher in Joella.”

The visiting Vikings (27-3) got a third-inning single and a fourth-inning walk. Otherwise, Thomas blitzed through their lineup. She struck out the side in the second and fifth innings and was still plenty strong at the finish, fanning two batters in the seventh.

“I felt confident out there,” Thomas said. “I know that my teammates have my back.”

Weddington (20-3) scored in the bottom of the first, when Adriana Lamantia was hit by a pitch, reached second on a Abby Peisker sacrifice, and scored on Madelyn Miller’s single.

The Warriors missed a chance to blow it open in the bottom of the third, when Lamanatia and Miller each singled, and Thomas was hit by a pitch. But Northwest Guilford pitcher Bel Valardi retired Reece Lindsay on a fly to short left field.

From that point on, the two pitchers took control.

“We know what we’re going up against now,” Lyerly said of the Vikings. “It’s tough, when you’re playing a team you haven’t seen before. They have a southpaw on the mound, and everything is a little different.”

“But now we have a better idea,” she added.

Game 2 of the series will be at Northwest Guilford. If a third game is needed, it will be played at 2 p.m. Saturday at Weddington.

PHOTOS: Northwest Guilford at Weddington Game 1