Good base running, the strong arm of catcher Gracie Lindsey and a gutty performance by pitcher Eden Durnil all played key roles in the Cavaliers running their record to 3-0 with a 7-5 win over Pulaski County on April 1.
“We have a very intelligent group of girls and a very athletic group of girls,” said Cavaliers Head Coach Rick Nester. “All but one of them started for us last year, and our new starter, Sydney Childress, laid down two perfectly executed sacrifice bunts.”
Although Pulaski outhit Carroll 11-7, the Cavaliers’ ability to keep the ball in play put them in a position to score the needed runs. Cougars’ pitcher Lauren Shumate struck out just one batter while her teammates committed three errors.
“We were struggling in our scrimmages, but our hitting is coming around. We’re putting the ball in play and good things are going to happen if you do that,” said Nester.
Carroll got on the board first with four runs in the bottom of the first inning. With one out, Lindsey singled up the middle, Eustacia Smith drew a walk and Tiffany Moore’s infield hit loaded the bases. Cheyenne Strickland’s single up the middle brought home Lindsey and Smith, leaving runners at second and third. Childress then followed with a bunt, but the throw to first was off the mark and Moore and Strickland crossed the plate.
Durnil, who had struck out four and given up just an infield hit during the first two innings, then began to have problems in the third inning with an injured thigh.
“It started tightening up on her in the third inning, so we had her stretch it out in between innings. She came back strong, giving up just one run after that,” noted Nester.
In that third inning, Pulaski used five hits, a hit batsmen and an error to tie the game. The Cougars still had runners at first and third with no outs when Lindsey fielded a hit ball in front of the plate, faked a throw to first, then gunned down the runner at third who had strayed too far off base.
“That’s the second time this year she’s done that,” said Nester. “She practices that and has a green light to do that any time.”
Lindsey also threw out a runner on a steal attempt at second base in the sixth inning and picked off a runner at first in the seventh inning after clutching a pop-up for a key doubleplay.
The tie game was short-lived, however, as Carroll came back to take the lead for good with two more runs in the bottom of the third for a 6-4 lead. Moore reached base on an error and Strickland drew a walk. Childress’ sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third, which allowed Moore to score on Gracie Davidson’s ground-out. Strickland moved to third on that play, then scored on a passed ball.
Pulaski cut Carroll’s lead to one when a two-out double by Shumate scored Callie Ratliffe. However, that was as close as the Cougars got, with the Cavaliers tacking on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. Carroll loaded the bases in the inning on singles by Kayla Walker and Lindsey and a Pulaski error. Lindsey then got caught in a rundown between second and third, and Walker took advantage of the Cougars’ attention to Lindsey to score from third.
The win showed his team had heart, said Nester.
“They could have hung their heads after Pulaski tied the game, but they battled back,” he said.
Lindsey and Walker each had two hits for the Cavaliers, while Strickland had two RBIs and Childress and Davidson one each.
Durnil picked up the win, striking out seven, walking one and hitting one batter, while giving up 11 hits and four earned runs.
Pulaski 004 100 0-5 11 3
Carroll 402001 x - 77 2
Shumate and Reece; Durnil and Lindsey. WP- Durnil. LP- Shumate. 2B- Shumate.
Michael Howlett can be reached at 276-728-7311 or on Twitter@MikeEHowlett