Warlassies walloping conference opponents in first half

Hitting and pitching power Owen softball to some big wins in the Western Highlands Conference

Fred McCormick

The Owen Warlassies have been an offensive force on the softball field this season after starting the year 4-0 and outscoring opponents 58-5 during that streak.

Pitching continues to be the team's calling card - junior Jaiden Tweed led Western North Carolina with 87 strikeouts through the first eight games of the season - but the Warlassies have shown they can take over games offensively as well.

Jaiden Tweed (4) and Ashley Valencia hit .640 and .500, respectively, through the first eight games of the season for the Owen Warlassies.

Owen needed only 5 innings to dispatch Western Highlands Conference opponent Polk, 12-2, on March 28. The win was one of three through the Warlassies' first eight games which required less than a full 7 innings.

Owen knocked in 7 runs in the first 2 innings against the Wolverines. Polk managed to score a run in both the second and third innings, but senior Natalie Stewart's 5 RBIs help power the Warlassies to a 10-run lead, triggering the ten-run rule and giving her team its sixth win of the season.

Senior Natalie Stewart swings at a pitch against Polk on March 28, when she picked up 5 RBIs in a 12-2 Owen victory.

Stewart's 13 RBIs through the first eight games were tied with Tweed for the most on Owen's roster. Tweed's .640 batting average in that stretch was tops in WNC. Her 4 home runs were tied for second in the region.

But Tweed wasn't the only player on the Warlassies swinging a hot bad through the first half of the season. Catcher Ashley Valencia hit .500 in 33 plate appearances while Owen's other left-handed bat, Anissa Avila, hit .452 from the leadoff spot. Junior Caitlyn Ledford and sophomore Chesney Gardner accounted for 5 of the team's 7 triples in the span.

Caitlyn Ledford scores one of the Warlassies' 12 runs against Polk at Owen on March 28.

Seven Warlassies hit over the .350 mark over the team's first eight contests.

The victory over Polk wasn't the first time the Warlassies displayed their offensive might against WHC opponents this season. The lineup produced 25 runs against Hendersonville on March 6, the largest offensive output by the program since 2013 when that squad beat Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy 30-0.

The offense scored 20 runs in the first three innings on March 14 at home against Mitchell in a 20-0 win.

The combination of Owen's offense and pitching propelled the team to a 6-2 record through March 29, when the Warlassies fell 5-3 on the road against Erwin. That loss came a little over a week after the Warlassies lost 5-4 at home to Madison, which had yet to lose a game (11-0) as of deadline.

The Warlassies were schedule to travel to T.C. Roberson to take on the 2-7 Rams on April 3 before hosting Avery the following night. The April 4 game is the final home game for the Warlassies until they host the 7-5 McDowell Titans on April 19.