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Ashley Nikolao has been a fixture in the Meade County lineup since she was a middle-schooler. Still, the Lady Waves’ star shortstop said she had never seen Mike Harreld yell as much as the veteran Meade County coach did during Wednesday’s practice following his team’s season-opening loss Tuesday to Louisville Eastern.
Twenty-two laps around Meade-Olin Park later, point taken.
After committing 15 errors and getting out-hit by the Lady Eagles on Tuesday, the Lady Waves responded Thursday night by pounding out five doubles and playing nearly flawless defense as they pounded the visiting John Hardin Lady Bulldogs in six innings, 11-1.
“Oooh, that was rough. We had about 22 laps around the field and a lot of screaming. I’ve never seen Coach Harreld scream like that,” Nikolao said of Wednesday’s practice. “We had 15 errors by the fourth inning, all fielding and throwing. It was a lot of young mistakes.”
Meade County freshman third baseman Rachel Ayer said Nikolao was not lying about the amount of running the Lady Waves endured.
“It was many laps and we deserved it, yes,” Ayer said. “I don’t think you can make (15) errors in a game and not learn from it somehow. We learned about talking and how talking is a big part of things and learned how to stay confident and keep believing in yourself.”
The Lady Waves (1-1) also learned how to produce without Nikolao being much of a factor.
The 3rd Region Coaches’ 2013 Preseason Player of the Year and the reigning The News-Enterprise Area Player of the Year was walked intentionally twice by Eastern and once by John Hardin (0-3). She finished 0-for-2, but scored twice and accounted for two of Meade County’s seven stolen bases.
Led by their lone senior, designated hitter Megan Aebersold, and a trio of youngsters – sophomore second baseman Elissa Youart, Ayer and sophomore right fielder Madison Haynes – 10 Meade County players had a hit, stole a base or scored a run.
“Our team did really good and whenever I can’t hit, they seem to do it for me,” said Nikolao, a University of Louisville commitment. “So it works out pretty good.”
Defensively (six errors, including two in the first inning and two more in the Lady Waves’ five-run fifth) or offensively (seven strikeouts, six hits, only one batter with multiple hits), not much went “pretty good” for John Hardin. Junior shortstop Kaitlyn Embry reached base all three times with two singles and reached first on Meade County’s only error. Senior center fielder Lexi Wood doubled and reached base twice, senior left fielder Brooke Reed reached base twice and scored the only run on a single by eighth-grade catcher Paige Geer.
Meanwhile, Youart scored twice and went 2-for-3 with a game-high two doubles and Haynes went 1-for-2 with a double and a game-high three RBIs.
Aebersold doubled to drive in Nikolao, who was intentionally walked to start the bottom of the fourth, to give Meade County a 4-1 lead. Aebersold scored each of her final three plate appearances, including her final at-bat in the sixth. After reaching on an error, she scored on a walk-off single to left by Ayer, who had two hits.
“Our whole team, piece by piece, everyone adds in what they have,” Ayer said of Meade County’s balanced offense. “It was much better compared to what we did two days ago.”
MEADECOUNTY11, JOHN HARDIN 1
R H E
John Hardin 010 000 1 6 6
Meade County 212 50111 8 1
Katlyn Geer and Paige Geer. Sarah Greer and Maddie Tabor. WP: Greer (1-0). LP: K. Geer. 2B: Lexi Wood (JH), Elissa Youart (MC) 2, Megan Aebersold (MC), Madison Haynes (MC), Tabor (MC).
UP NEXT: Meade County hosts Louisville Male at 5:30 and Spencer County at 8:30 tonight in the TSOA Tournament. John Hardin plays at Thomas Nelson at noon Saturday.
Nathaniel Bryancan be reached at (270) 505-1758 or email@example.com