Devon duo Emma Corney and Steph Hutchins were ‘mentioned in dispatches’ following Western Storm’s seven-wicket win over South East Stars in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.
Sophie Luff hogged the headlines after fashioning a top score of 104 not out as the hosts chased a target of 213 and cruised to victory with 23 balls to spare on the County Ground in Bristol.
Georgia Hennessy, who played for Devon last season while studying in the county, shared in a match-winning stand of 162 for the third with Luff as Storm stayed hard on the heels of leaders Southern Vipers in their qualifying group.
All-rounder Hennessy excelled with bat and ball, claiming 3-40 in 10 overs before posting an assured 86, her highest score of the season so far.
By the time their partnership realised three figures in the 37th over, Luff and Hennessy had guided Storm to within 64 runs of victory with eight wickets and 83 balls in hand. Determined to see their side home
with a minimum of anxiety, the third wicket pair refused to take undue risks, content to wait for the bad ball and knock off the remaining runs without offering their opponents a glimmer of hope.
Luff’s perfectly paced innings was adorned with 11 fours and a six and she went to three figures from 132 balls, while Hennessy accrued 12 boundaries in a forthright knock that spanned 106 deliveries.
Victory was already assured when Hennessy was bowled by Hannah Jones in the 46th over.
Stars won the toss and Kirstie White and Maxine Blythin both registered patient half centuries on a difficult pitch.
But neither was able to go on and make a really decisive contribution, and Stars’ total of 212-9 in 50 overs never really looked like being enough once Hennessy and Luff began to move through the gears.
Wickets change games and, just at the point where Stars were threatening to lay the foundations for a really big score, Corney effected a crucial double intervention, running out White for 50 with a lightning-quick pick-up-and-throw from point and then finding her way past Amy Gordon’s defences to dismiss the new batsman for a first-ball duck and reduce the visitors to 113-4 at the halfway point of the innings.
Thereafter, Storm reasserted control, Corney conjuring a tidy return of 1-23 off six overs, bowling in tandem with Devon teammate Stephanie Hutchins, who sent down 10 overs unchanged for 1-27.
Bowling under pressure at the death, Hennessy sent down five overs for two wickets at a cost of just 20 runs to keep the visitors in check.
Skipper Luff was quick to spread the credit around in the wake of victory, but reminded the team where they have to improve.
Luff said: “That was my first hundred playing for Western Storm and to do it at this level feels pretty special.
‘I knew it was on when I hit a four and a six and went to 88. We’re big on the team ethic here and I knew Georgia (Hennessy) would leave enough runs for me to get there.
‘Georgia has good skills with bat and ball and her all-round performance was exceptional. She came into the game under pressure to make a score batting at number four and she responded brilliantly.”
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