The South Johnston softball team exploded for 13 hits Tuesday night and created havoc on the base paths, as it had at least one runner reach base in every inning in a 6-4 win over rival Cleveland to force a tie for first in the conference.
The Trojans (13-7, 5-1 Two Rivers 3A) used a 3-run second inning to create momentum that carried over to the next two innings. Following a lead-off walk by Mary Ann Brown, Kandis Adams hit a drive deep over the centerfield wall to give the Trojans a 2-0 lead. She would follow that up with an RBI sacrifice-fly in the third.
“It was a huge momentum shifter. She was due,” said Trojans coach Amanda Smith. “She’s been hitting the ball on the nose all year. I kept telling her to keep hitting the ball hard and good things will happen. And when that happened, the momentum erupted in the dugout.”
South Johnston had four runners reach base in the fourth inning that began with an error. Kelly Dorman, who reached by way of error, wound up scoring as Kyndall Woodard tried to steal second.
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“I think it helps in practice, we’ve been putting runners in positions to score and creating those competitive situations help us defensively, as well as at the plate figuring out what we have to do to score runs and make things happen,” said Smith.
Cleveland (12-4, 5-1) entered the bottom of the seventh trailing by four. After a leadoff single and the next batter reaching on a fielder’s choice, Carmen Keene got the next two hitters to fly out. Julia Wiggs’ two-RBI single brought the Rams to within two. Ali Papworth then hit a single to bring the winning run to the plate. Keene settled in and struck out Gilchrist to end the game.
“You look back at the early innings. The first inning we had bases loaded and were not able to score. It is what it is. We’re built as a hitting team,” said Rams coach James Morris.
With a quick out to start the game, the Cleveland offense had two singles and a walk to load the bases. But Keene struck out the next two batters to end the potential threat for the Rams. Cleveland cut the deficit to three in the fourth inning on Brooke Gillespie’s RBI-double. Camryn Barbour reached on an error to follow, but Keene induced an inning-ending groundout.
“I feel like she does better under pressure,” Smith said about her pitcher. “She’s a competitor and she’s a fighter. When she’s in those situations, she digs deeper.”
Keene pitched 8-hit ball over seven innings to get the win. She helped herself at the plate, going 3-for-4, all singles.