By JOEL COLEMAN
MABEN – There's a nine-day layoff before East Webster begins softball playoff action on April 29.
Long break aside, the Wolverines proved on Tuesday in Cumberland that they are more than ready to make some postseason noise.
Facing Hamilton to wrap up the 2011 regular season, East Webster notched a mercy-rule shortened 11-0 home win thanks to plenty of offense and a one-hit performance from senior starting pitcher and Mississippi State signee Swayze Hollenhead.
"It's every pitcher's dream to get this kind of offense," said Hollenhead. "11-0 is a good cushion to work with. I'm really proud of my girls and the way they hit."
While East Webster's runs came in bunches, Hollenhead could have made due with just one.
In her complete-game, five-inning effort, Hollenhead struck out four while surrendering just the one hit.
Hollenhead chalked up her stellar performance to her ability to focus on the glove of batterymate Autumn Frost.
"I was just trying to keep the ball inside," said Hollenhead. "I didn't want to give up hits. I didn't want them to get on base. If they did get on, I wanted it to be on just a really good, hard hit, or me making a mistake. But I was determined not to make a mistake on the mound and just pitch with all my might."
Hollenhead's grit payed off, and it was a sight East Webster head coach Meleah Brown was proud to see.
"Swayze did an excellent job," said Brown. "Just giving up the one hit and one hit-by-pitch, you can't ask for better."
In Brown's eyes, Hollenhead wasn't the only Wolverine who shined on Tuesday.
Playing against a Hamilton squad that is traditionally known for their talent and willingness to battle, Brown had been insisting to her team that it would take a complete effort to down the Lions.
The first-year East Webster coach got her wish.
"All day, I told the team, we've got to be up for Hamilton," said Brown. "Hamilton is a team that does not give up. Every inning, we'd score and I just reminded the girls that we couldn't stop. We had to keep pounding.
"The offense was good and the defense played solid. There really wasn't anything to complain about."
The Wolverines put the game out of reach early. After each team went scoreless in the first inning, Hollenhead again kept Hamilton off the board in the top of the second just ahead of a five-run East Webster outburst in their half of the frame.
The Wolverines added one more in the third and five more in the fourth to cap the game's scoring.
East Webster found success up and down its lineup throughout the contest.
Montana Spencer had two hits for the Wolverines while Swayze Hollenhead, Cayley McClellan, Bailey Williams, Mamie Hollenhead and Michaela White all hit safely for East Webster.
Chloe Roberson and Katie Gordon helped out the Wolverines offense the hard way, as Roberson was hit by a pitch three different times while Gordon was plunked twice.
Brown hopes that such team-wide production will carry over into next week's best-of-three playoff showdown against rival and Class 2A, Region 4 champ Eupora.
East Webster (14-6, 4-2 in division play) is entering the postseason as the runner-up to Hatley in Class 2A, Region 3.
"We'll be playing our rival next week, so it's not going to be hard to get up for them," said Brown. "It'll be a great series. I know our girls are ready and I know Eupora is the same way. We don't have to get the girls up. They're already up."
The question now revolves around whether or not the two Webster County teams can maintain their readiness over the week-and-a-half break prior to the showdown.
Swayze Hollenhead says the days off won't be a problem for her or East Webster.
"I believe that both myself and the girls will be at the field still working hard," said Hollenhead. "I know I'll be up here pitching everyday anyway. I'll probably stay on the field over the whole time off. I think we'll be fine."