THIS WEEK'S TOP STORIES
Do the math: 7 innings, 23 outs and a new state strikeout record
By Chris Sokoloski
Waccamaw High pitcher Ashley Czechner already tied the state record for strikeouts in one seven-inning game: 21. She went one better in Saturday’s playoff game with Cane Bay.
To get 22 strikeouts, a new state record, required a wild pitch by Czechner and passed ball by catcher Taylor Guthrie.
There was also an out on a fly ball to center field.
In the first two games of the Class AA playoffs, Ashley Czechner set a Waccamaw High School record and a South Carolina record, and the Warriors continued their perfect season.
The victories, 4-0 over Loris last week and 3-1 over Cane Bay on Saturday, put Waccamaw (28-0) into the District VII championship last night in a rematch with Cane Bay.
In the Loris game, Czechner struck out 18, passing Addie Avant for most career strikeouts by a Waccamaw High pitcher.
She said breaking the record was “awesome,” but is more concerned with winning a state title.
Czechner, Ashley Brown, Shelly Strickland and Harrison Moran all had RBIs.
“We came out flat against Loris,” coach Scott Streiffert said. “We don’t always play our best at home, but we persevere.”
Czechner struck out 22 Cane Bay batters on Saturday, a South Carolina High School League record for seven innings. A dropped third strike by catcher Taylor Guthrie allowed the batter to advance to first, giving Czechner the chance for an extra strikeout.
She tied the record in March with 21 strikeouts against Ashley Ridge.
Czechner dominated the Lady Cobras, recording 71 strikes and 24 balls. She struck out the side in five of seven innings.
Cane Bay took a 1-run lead in the top of the first on a walk and a triple, and for the first time this season the Warriors found themselves behind in a game.
“I was worried about how we would react to that,” Streiffert said. “That wasn’t really a bad thing.”
Cane Bay’s lead was short-lived, as Waccamaw came back to tie the score in the bottom of the first.
Nikki Legg led off with a single and Tricia Hood beat out a bunt. After a wild pitch advanced the runners, Legg scored on a sacrifice by Brown.
The score remained tied until the fourth.
Czechner led off with a single, Melaina Moore reached on an error and Riley Morris advanced the runners with a sacrifice. Sam Homan picked up an RBI on a sacrifice for the 2-1 lead.
Moore then added her second career home run in the sixth, a ball that just cleared the left field fence and landed in the second row of the bleachers.
“We thought it would be a tough game,” Streiffert said. “It’s getting to the point that all the remaining teams are competitive and that’s keeping the games close.”
“We’re taking it one game at a time,” said Moore. The games are getting more intense because teams have heard about Czechner or have already faced her, she said.
Cane Bay’s pitcher, Erin Cook, was also the first lefty Waccamaw faced this season.
“We prepared differently because we heard she kept the ball away from everybody,” Streiffert said. “We spent a lot of time hitting to right field and getting up on the ball.”
A win on Wednesday would send Waccamaw to the winner of District VIII, either Dillon, Andrews or Pelion, on Saturday.
“The pressure is mounting,” Czechner said. “We know we have to win. Last year we weren’t expected to win. This year we are.”
“We’re a very close team,” Moore said. “We want to win [a title] for the girls who have never won.”
If Waccamaw continues its winning streak, the Warriors will host a game on Monday, and then their second straight Lower State championship on May 14.
“We know what’s ahead and we have the players and athletes to do it,” Czechner said. “We’ve got our eye on a state championship and nobody’s going to stop us.”