Sophomore Carmen Keene was one inning shy of pitching a shutout as South Johnston took an 8-2 softball win at Corinth Holders Thursday, dropping the Pirates into fourth and putting the Trojans into a tie for second with rival Triton in the Two Rivers 3A Conference.
After three scoreless innings, the bats got hot for the Trojans (7-5, 2-1), as they scored one run in the fourth, four in the fifth, one in the sixth and two in the seventh.
Shanan Hester hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh to put the Pirates (6-6, 2-2) on the board, but after a pair of fly outs, Keene ended the game with her 12th strikeout of the night.
South’s game at Triton, scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed to April 24. Trojans coach Amanda Smith said the extra day of practice helped in the team’s preparation.
“We went to a more competitive style,” Smith said. “Putting runners in scoring position and finding ways to score them. We were leaving a lot of runners on. We even left bases loaded and runners at second and third tonight. Those are five runs, potentially. Putting yourself in competitive situations and working your way out of them. I think our team is growing in chemistry, too.”
Keene, in just her second time pitching the full seven innings, kept Corinth’s hitters guessing all night. She gave up two earned runs on seven hits and no walks and struck out 12 batters.
“Really big,” Keene said. “I’m super glad it’s going like this. I’m just glad it’s helping the team. I’ll give it to Mack (Honeycutt, the catcher). She was calling pitches where they couldn’t hit it and I was just pitching what she called.”
Mary Ann Brown went 4-for-4 at the plate, including a double, with a run scored, Mackenzie Honeycutt was 3-for-4 with an RBI and Courtney Garris had two hits, including a triple, and three RBI to lead South at the plate.
“We’re capable of putting up eight runs every night,” Smith said. “It’s just a matter of swinging at good pitches and good things happen. That’s what we did tonight.”
Garris bookended the scoring for the Trojans, driving in Emma Jernigan with a single for South’s first run in the fourth and tripling to score Brown and Kandis Adams for the Trojans’ last two runs in the seventh.
Corinth’s inability to bring base runners home was costly, as the Pirates left nine runners on base in the game, including five stranded in scoring position.
“We couldn’t capitalize and string together hits,” said Corinth coach Jessica Potter. “Couldn’t capitalize on hits. We tried to fight back in the seventh and got the one big hit, but that wasn’t enough.”
The Pirates had difficulty adjusting to Keene’s off-speed pitch.
“She had a nasty change-up,” Potter said. “That kept us on our toes and frustrated all night long.”
Hester had two hits, including a home run, two RBI and a run scored and Kylie Keon had a hit and a run scored to lead Corinth offensively.