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One big Lady Eagles inning enough



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Lanesville's Robyn Schoen makes contact with a pitch against South Central Thursday. Photo by Brian Smith
April 23, 2014 | 12:49 PM

Emma Zeller wasn't certain coach Rusty Cecil gave her the squeeze sign from the third-base box.

However, she went with her gut and put down the squeeze in the third inning anyway. Not only did the well-executed play score a charging Robyn Schoen from third base as the ball trickled down the third-base line, but it also led to a second run.

When Zeller broke for second base after rounding first, the throw down was errant, allowing Erica Daly to score. Zeller slid into third safely, greeting her coach with a wide grin.

"Emma didn't know if she saw the signal or not but went ahead with the squeeze," Cecil said. "It put (South Central) in a position to play defense, and they weren't ready. Robyn hustled in to get under the tag."

It was one big inning Thursday for the Lady Eagles against rival South Central at Schickel Field in Lanesville. Five runs came across in the third, leading to a 5-1 win for the Lady Eagles over their Southern Athletic Conference counterpart.

With the 5-0 lead following the big inning, Zeller and her defense took care of the rest in the field. Lanesville put together a clean game in the field, along with Zeller striking out seven.

"Not a bad start to the year," Cecil said.

The victory moved Class A No. 2 Lanesville to 5-0 on the season.

"I hope we aren't getting too complacent," Cecil said. "I felt we should have done better today, but I'm happy with a win."

Cecil believes there were missed opportunities at the plate, stranding runners in five of six innings.

For South Central, first-year coach Katie Crecelius was pleased with her team's performance.

"We've had several defensive errors in our first couple games, but we're cleaning that up," she said. "I thought they played a great game. Lanesville had a heck of a team, and (we) knew it would be a tough conference game."

Lanesville put two on in the first inning when Schoen was hit by a pitch and Erica Daly reached on a single. Both, however, were left on base when South Central pitcher Victoria Salle induced pop-ups by Annie Parsons and Jessica DeWeese.

Sallee was steady in the circle but also provided two of South Central's three hits. She led off the second inning with a single but was doubled up when Olivia Ferree's bunt attempt was caught in the air.

"We did a nice job at the plate," Crecelius said. "Victoria hit the ball really nicely today. We tried to get a bunt down, and it didn't work out when she was on."

Lanesville's big inning came in the third when South Central misplayed an infield pop-up by Mackenzie Randolph, allowing her to reach.

Drawing a walk, Hannah Conder reached and eventually followed Randolph home on a double hit by Schoen. The sharply hit ball buzzed over the third-base bag and into left field.

Daly followed with an infield single, beating out a sharp grounder to South Central shortstop Maddie Mellick's right.

With two on, Zeller delivered the squeeze play. The second error of the inning on the throw down to second allowed two runs to score. Zeller eventually came home when DeWeese grounded out.

South Central came up with a run in the fourth, led by Oakley Taylor reaching on a single. A wild pitch then a delayed steal to swipe third moved her up. With two outs, Sallee delivered the RBI, smoking a single to the grass.

Once Sallee reached, it was the last base runner South Central would have. Zeller retired the final 10 consecutive batters in order.

"We're satisfied with our pitching," Cecil said. "They hit Emma a little bit, but that's OK. There weren't many hard hit ones, but her and Robyn have pitched well."

He was pleased with the defense as well. In center, Daly made a running catch, preventing Sallee from having a three-hit day in the seventh.

"Our defense was fine today," Cecil said. "Erica made a play that no other kid on the field could have made."

Doubles by Lanesville's Randolph and DeWeese prompted scoring opportunities in the fourth and fifth innings; however, both were eventually left on base.

The sixth inning offered more chances with Schoen reaching after being hit again, followed by a Daly walk and Parsons single. All came with two outs, but Sallee ended the threat by forcing Zeller to pop out.

"We'll keep plugging away with the bats at practice," Cecil said. "We want to keep getting the skills up. South Central was better than I thought they were going to be. They played pretty well in the field."

Outside of the rough third, Crecelius sees improvements with her ball club.

"It was a good attitude tonight, and they played hard for seven innings," she said. "Maddie Millick has come in and done a nice job at shortstop. We've had some injuries, forcing us to move players around, but we are getting settled. Olivia Ferree caught for us tonight, and it was her first time this year."

Similar to Cecil, the South Central coach was hoping a few more balls in play would have put added runners on.

"I wish our hits would have fell through," Crecelius said. "It seemed like we were hitting it right to them. We'll keep working on hitting in practice."

It was the second win in SAC play for Lanesville, which defeated Crothersville the day before.

Cecil wants to make sure his players stay grounded regardless of their record or ranking.

"We're pleased about the conference wins," he said. "We don't want to expect to win when we come out here. Wins aren't handed out. We have two conference games next week then Northeast Dubois, so we better start hitting it a little better than we did today."

Zeller earned the win in the circle, striking out seven while walking none. Sallee took the loss, giving up six hits while allowing four walks and two hit batters.

Lanesville will return to action tonight (Wednesday) when the Lady Eagles host Henryville at 5 followed by a trip to Northeast Dubois tomorrow.

South Central will jump back into action Friday when the Lady Rebels host North Harrison at 5 p.m.

South Central 000 100 0 – 1 3 2

Lanesville 005 000 x – 5 6 0

W – E. Zeller, L – V. Sallee.

2B – R. Schoen (L), J. DeWeese (L), M. Randolph (L).

Twitter: @CoryDemSports

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