Sending 13 batters to the plate, Wheeler (1-1) pounded out six hits — all singles — in the fifth inning, stole one base and got some help from McEachern (0-2), which issued two walks, a wild pitch and committed two errors.
All of Lady Wildcats’ runs in the frame were unearned.
“We’re glad to get our first win of the season,” Wheeler coach Vicki Massey said. “The girls needed this. We’ve been hitting more live pitching in practice since our first game of the season, and I think that helped us (Friday). Our defense improved, and our pitching really pulled us through.
“We got some momentum once the door opened for us in the fifth. We took advantage of what we were given, and our attitude stayed up, even though we were down by two runs late in the game. I’m really proud of the girls. They made solid contact with the ball all game and put it in play to make things happen.”
Anna Awald batted 2-for-2 with a double, an RBI and walked twice to pace Wheeler. She also gave up seven runs — five earned — on nine hits and struck out three to get the victory.
Samantha Lee and Sidney Ray each had a hit and two RBIs, while Eboni Brown, Paige Jordan and Lori Blosz each had a hit and an RBI. Kirstin Ray and Trisha Ramakrishnan also had RBIs, and Marianne Danneman singled. Courtesy runners Chelsea Hollinshed scored twice.
McEachern’s Khayla Green, who was 3-for-4 with three stolen bases and four runs scored, reached first on an error to lead off the game. Two at-bats later, she scored for a 1-0 McEachern lead.
Awald led off the second with a walk and courtesy runner Sarah Halfacre scored on Ramakrishnan’s two-out groundout to knot the game at 2-all.
Green singled to lead off the third, moved to second on a wild pitch, stole third and scored on Ryan Hawkins’ groundout to put the Lady Indians back in front.
However, Awald walked again to start the bottom of the fourth. She reached second on an illegal pitch and came home on Jordan’s double for a 2-all tie.
Green singled again to start the fifth. She stole second and scored when Hawkins reached on an error. One batter later, Kristin Hall’s groundout plated Hawkins for a 4-2 McEachern advantage.
The Lady Indians’ Lakelyn Priest, who allowed seven runs — one earned — on three hits in 4 1/3 innings, threw to six batters in the fifth before Abigail Cherry relieved her. Cherry saw the remaining seven batters in the frame and gave up four unearned runs on five hits over the final 1 2/3 innings of the game.
McEachern scored three runs in the sixth on three hits, as it attempted to rally back, but Awald shut down the Lady Indians’ chances, stranding runners on second and third and retiring McEachern in order in the seventh.
Cherry had a hit for McEachern, while Kimberly Taylor had an RBI.
“We have 13 freshmen and sophomores out of 17 players on this team,” McEachern coach Russ Russell said. “We have no juniors, so we’re young, and most young teams are prone to give up a huge inning. I was pleased with the effort, but we blew up in that one inning. We’ll get better, though.”