Clutch hits lift Lady Eagles in 8th
South Central used aggressive base running in the seventh inning Friday to knot the score against rival Lanesville, forcing extra at bats for both squads.
When Lanesville came to the plate in the top of the eighth, the Lady Eagles wasted no time splitting the left-center gap twice with big blasts. Four runs came across, three on a Mckenzie Randolph double, leading to a 9-5 score over Southern Athletic Conference host South Central.
‘We had some great efforts today,’ Lanesville coach Rusty Cecil said. ‘We had a lot of big hits. In the eighth inning, when we needed it, our girls really focused and hit strikes.’
To force the eighth, South Central rallied from a 5-4 deficit when it was down to its final three outs. Oakley Taylor started the frame by reaching first on a hit by pitch when Randolph’s attempt clipped the Lady Rebels player’s foot.
After taking first, Taylor swiped second base and then took third on a delayed steal. She crossed the plate when Kelsey McKinzie grounded out to second baseman Kately Hurley.
Heading into the eighth, Lanesville put pressure on the Lady Rebels. Regan Walker, returning to the catcher position for the first time this season after an injury, hammered a double to left field. Following a ground out, Katelyn Pavey singled to left, eventually taking second base on a throw.
In Hurley’s batting effort, she laid down a sacrifice bunt that failed to draw a throw, loading the bases for Randolph.
Finding a pitch she liked, Randolph cleared the bags with a left-center double.
‘These have been two games that were right there,’ South Central coach Katie Crecelius said.
South Central lost the night before, 1-0, to New Washington.
‘The girl in the eighth had a monster shot, but I told my girls we left six on base today,’ Crecelius said. ‘We need the confidence to do what (Randolph did).’
Hurley and Randolph were key for Lanesville in the lineup. Both closed the game with three hits each. On top of Randolph’s three RBIs, Hurley had two as well.
On the defensive side, the pair swapped pitching roles. With Hurley sidelined due to an arm injury, Randolph filled in within the circle.
‘Mickie, with Hurley out for a week with her arm injury, she was told this was her game to pitch,’ Cecil said. ‘She got a conference victory.’
Randolph struck out seven, walked five and hit two batters. South Central had five hits.
Lanesville added another run in the seventh when Laynie Collins reached on an error.
The win has Cecil and his bunch feeling good vibes on the field. The addition of Walker behind the plate strengthened the team. She picked off one base runner then caught another stealing.
‘There’s a lot of potential as long as they play together like a team,’ Cecil said. ‘We’re doing good things. We’re playing pretty good defense, and our pitcher-catcher worked well together.’
Lanesville opened Friday’s contest with four straight batters reaching base. Hurley brought home Pavey with a single. When the bases were loaded with no outs, South Central twirler Haley Shaffer escaped the jam with back-to-back strikeouts and a fielder’s choice.
Bats for South Central created scoring chances in the bottom of the second inning. A walk and stolen base by Sabra Walker set up consecutive bunt singles down the third baseline. Emily Miller and Taylor provided the bunt hits. All three eventually scored on wild pitches.
‘We usually have a rough inning, and usually it is the first,’Crecelius said. ‘I was proud they got out of that inning and came back to score some runs. We had some really good base running. We were aggressive on the bases.’
South Central’s 3-1 lead was short lived. With two outs, Michaela Behr delivered a two-run single past a diving Sydney Lewis at second base. Backing up Behr, Peyton Sonner knocked an RBI hit down the right-field line, giving Lanesville a 4-3 edge at the time. Each team added a run ‘ Hurley and Lewis with hits to plate scores ‘ before the finish.
‘Everybody contributed,’ Cecil said. ‘We made good contact today, and we have been making good contact. We had 20 hits against Scottsburg the other day … I want to keep playing. I just want them to play hard, win or lose.’
South Central’s Shaffer had eight strike outs and didn’t walk a batter. Miller went 2 for 3 with two singles and a sac bunt. Sabra Walker reached base three times, each time drawing a base on balls.
‘I think we are kind of low right now after several losses in a row,’ Crecelius said. ‘We had a lot of games this week. We want to play our best each inning.’
Lanesville 103 100 04 ‘ 9 13 0
South Central 030 010 10 ‘ 5 5 3
W ‘ Randolph, L ‘ Shaffer.
2B ‘ Pavey (L), Randolph (L), Walker (L).