Western pitcher Tracy Gruzs celebrated her 17th birthday yesterday, and her team scored nearly one run for every candle on her cake.
The Doves pounded out 16 hits and scored in every inning in a 16-1 rout of visiting Southern of Baltimore to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three City-Wide Championship Series.
Western (13-1), which swept Southern to win the title last season, can wrap up its second straight championship with a victory at Swann Park tomorrow at 2 p.m.
Gruzs, a junior, allowed three hits and an unearned run, walking one and striking out eight.
"She's a finesse pitcher," Western coach Diane Lawton said of Gruzs. "She has about five pitches, and she goes for the corners."
Catcher Sonya Jones went 3-for-4 with three runs and three RBI to lead Western's hitting attack. Gruzs and Kim Osborne also had three RBI apiece for the Doves.
Western took a 2-0 lead on Osborne's two-out, two-run triple in the first inning.
The Doves made it 4-0 in the second when they rallied for two runs on four hits -- three of which were infield singles -- with two outs.
The Bulldogs (10-9) scored their lone run in the third on Joy Leisey's RBI single, but the Doves sent 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the inning, scoring four runs on three hits to break the game open.
Southern's problems were compounded by poor fielding. The Bulldogs committed six errors, including three in a six-run sixth.
"We just didn't make the plays in the field," Southern coach Jack Nehmsmann said.
"We can hit [Gruzs]. It's just a matter of making contact."