WELLSTON – After losing the entire 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, softball is back. The Wellston Lady Rockets hit restart almost a full year after spring sports had been suspended.

Head coach Jim Hall, who begins his third season at the helm, is excited to finally be back.

"It has been a long two years,” said Hall. “It feels really good to be back out here playing softball again.”

The last time Wellston took the field was May 16, 2019, in the Division III District semifinals. Gone are six seniors from the 2020 squad, who never stepped on the field for their final high school season.

However, new faces who are expected to make an impact for the Lady Rockets this season did so in the season-opener against Huntington on Saturday afternoon.

Wellston pushed across three runs in the first inning and rode a strong pitching performance by freshman Maddie Potts for a 6-2 win over the Lady Huntsmen at Nancy Kibler Field.

“This was a good first game to begin the season,” said Hall. “We started fast against a good pitcher and put a couple of runs on the board early.”

Wellston (1-0) scored what proved to be the winning runs in the first inning after Makenna Kilgour led off with a single and Jenna Johnston walked. Both runners advanced on a passed ball, and moments later,  Kamryn Karr doubled in both runs to take a 2-0 lead.

Karr moved to third on a passed ball, and a ground ball back up the middle by Potts was deep enough to allow Karr to scamper home for a 3-0 advantage.

After taking the lead, Potts was on target in the circle, retiring nine of the next 10 batters she faced. She finished with a complete-game, six-hitter with two walks, and eight strikeouts to record the first win of her young high school career.

“Maddie was strong for a good five innings for us today,” Hall said. “She performed very well for a freshman in her first varsity start, and the team backed her up. Our defense had her back, and the offense kept her in the game.”

Meanwhile, the Lady Rockets capitalized on a pair of defensive errors by Huntington in the bottom of the third to extend their lead to 5-0.

Kilgour singled to begin the frame, stole second, and scored after Johnston reached on a throwing error by Huntington pitcher Carley Dyer,

Johnston, who went to second on the throwing error, scored two batters later when Potts’ grounder to the right side of the infield was booted for an error.

Huntington scored two runs on three hits in the top of the fifth, including a run-scoring double by Dyer to put the Lady Huntsmen on the board.

The Lady Rockets, though, pushed their lead to 6-2 in the bottom of the fifth when Johnston led off the frame with a single, and scored on a two-out RBI single by Neveah Ousley.

Potts pitched her way out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth and came back to retire the side in order in the seventh for the win.

“We kind of fell asleep in the later innings, and they threatened, but fortunately we woke up and finished it out,” Hall said. “Overall, we need to work on our short game and a few other little things. If we can get those worked out, we should be pretty good this year.”

Kilgour led Wellston offensively, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored, while Johnston went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks and scored three runs. Karr added a double and two RBI with one run scored, and Ousley went 1-for-3 with a run batted in.

The Lady Rockets return to Nancy Kibler Field to take on Ironton in a non-league softball game on Monday. The first pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.