South Adams High School junior Alaina Johnston smiles as she reaches for a low-five from coach Jessie O’Dell after hitting a two-run home run in the third inning Wednesday against Canterbury. Johnston was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs in the Starfires’ 15-4 victory over the Cavaliers in five innings. (The Commercial Review/Chris Schanz)
South Adams High School junior Alaina Johnston smiles as she reaches for a low-five from coach Jessie O’Dell after hitting a two-run home run in the third inning Wednesday against Canterbury. Johnston was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs in the Starfires’ 15-4 victory over the Cavaliers in five innings. (The Commercial Review/Chris Schanz)
BERNE — The Starfires scored two runs in the first inning but still trailed the Cavaliers 3-2.
They added four more in the second to take the lead and never looked back.
After the Starfires jumped ahead 4-3, Alaina Johnston hit a two-run home run to break the game open for the South Adams High School softball team. The Stars continued to pour on the runs in a 15-4, five-inning victory Wednesday over Canterbury.
“She turned on that one,” SAHS coach Jessie O’Dell said of the junior shortstop. “I feel good for her. She hit it pretty well.
“Her swing is so much better this year, and she’s got so much power and speed.”
Following a single by Katelin Augsburger, Olivia Turner reached on the second of six Canterbury errors in the contest. They both scored on an RBI single by Lauren Smith to give the Starfires (3-2) the 4-3 lead. Then, Johnston launched the first pitch of her at bat over the left-field fence for her first home run of the season.
“That felt really good,” she screamed as she returned to the dugout after being mauled by her teammates at home plate.
Canterbury (1-2) answered with a run in the top of the third on an RBI double by Tamara Chakanuyka. The Cavalier senior finished with two hits and three RBIs.
“This is really only her second year playing,” Canterbury coach Lauren Benedict said of Chakanyuka. “She is really getting her stride this year, is getting more comfortable at the plate and has been able to capitalize.”
Then the errors started piling up for the Cavs.
South Adams scored one run in the third inning on a pair of defensive miscues by the left side of the Canterbury infield. Keirstyn Grimm, who had two hits, two runs and an RBI, reached on an error by the third baseman Emma Hyndman, and then advanced to second on another error by Roxanne Waggoner. Grimm scored on back-to-back wild pitches.
“I was hoping that maybe it was the cold today that made us a little sluggish,” Benedict said. “The run rule is because we didn’t make the plays in the infield and gave up a lot of unearned runs.”
Seven of the Starfires’ 15 runs were unearned.
South Adams not only capitalized on the Canterbury errors but was aggressive on the base paths as well.
In the second inning, Turner scored from second on Smith’s infield hit to the right side, catching the Canterbury defense on its heels.
Maddie Morgan and Grimm both nabbed an extra base in the same inning — Morgan scoring on a throw from the outfield and Grimm taking third on a single that dropped in front of the right fielder.
“That helped us out quite a bit,” O’Dell said. “That’s one of the things I told our kids, offensively we just needed to be aggressive on the base paths.
“Make them make plays. If we put pressure on their defense, we’re going to win more often than not.”
 South Adams tacked on five runs on four hits in the fourth inning, and added three runs in the fifth to end the game early.
Johnston led the Starfires with two hits, three RBIs and three runs. Augsburger, Grimm and Smith all added a pair of hits, and Morgan scored three times.
“We’ve been swinging the bats pretty well,” O’Dell said. “I think we’re doing a good job of knowing where our zone is. Just because a (pitch) is a strike doesn’t mean it’s a ball you want to hit.”
Abby Myers recorded the win for South Adams, giving up four runs on eight hits while striking out three and walking two.
O’Dell said he didn’t plan on using Myers the whole game. He thought about bringing in Alyssa Bluhm in the second or third inning when Myers was struggling. But the freshman settled down, started throwing with more velocity and had a more comfortable lead, so she stayed in the circle.
Emma Ocken took the loss for Canterbury, surrendering 12 hits and walking two.
“Unfortunately our defense didn’t help her out,” Benedict said. “I thought she pitched a great game for her, we just need to play defense behind her to get the outs for her.”