Who needs the long ball when you can drive in two runs with a bunt? On Thursday, Carroll County’s softball team turned the trick twice in one inning en route to a 10-5 River Ridge District victory over Patrick Henry in Hillsville.
Holding on to a slim 6-5 lead, the Cavaliers played small ball to perfection as Gracie Davidson and Hannah Dalton both drove in a pair of runs with bunts in the sixth inning. The inning started in traditional fashion as Gracie Lindsey led off with a single to left field and Cheyenne Strickland ripped a double to left center to put runners on second and third.
Then with one out, head coach Rick Nester called for Gracie Davidson to bunt. It worked perfectly as Patrick Henry forgot to cover first base and the throw to first flew wildly away, allowing Lindsey and Strickland to score. After Eustacia Smith reached on an infield single, Nester again dialed up a bunt, this time with Hannah Dalton at the plate. The tactic worked beautifully again as Patriots’ pitcher Taylor Eichelberger sailed the throw over first baseman Hannah Snider’s head, allowing Davidson and Smith to score to stretch the Carroll lead to 10-5.
“I was shooting for one run on each bunt, but then we got an extra run when they forgot to cover first base. The pitcher had pressure on her at that point and I just wanted to go back to it and make them make a play on it,” Nester said. “Hannah and Gracie both laid down perfect bunts. That got us four runs, which gave us the big cushion that we needed.”
Carroll County (7-3, 4-2 River Ridge) had rallied from a 4-1 deficit earlier in the game. The Cavs went up 1-0 in the first inning after Eden Durnil reached on an error and scored when Cheyenne Strickland also reached on an error.
But Patrick Henry (4-8, 1-4 River Ridge) surged ahead with four runs in the top of the second. Allison Ripple started things off with a two-run single before Eichelberger made it 4-1 with a two-run double to left.
Carroll bounced right back with five runs in the bottom half of the second. Smith led the inning off with a walk, then moved to second on Dalton’s single through the gap. Both runners moved up on a passed ball and Smith scored when Walker reached on an error. Durnil then tied it up with a two-run single to left to score Dalton and Walker. Durnil went on to score on a wild pitch.
The Cavs went on to load the bases as Lindsey and Strickland singled and Tiffanie Moore walked. Lindsey would cross home plate for a 6-4 lead when Davidson reached on an error before the Patriots got out of the inning.
Carroll got out of a big jam in the fifth inning. Kathie Dill led off with a solo home run over the left field fence to cut the Cavalier lead to 6-5. Patrick Henry went on to load the bases with one out before Davidson got Snider to pop up to second and Ripple to ground out to short.
Davidson struck out seven and walked five, while giving up eight hits and five runs. She only gave up four hits and one run after the second inning, however.
“Gracie, I thought, settled down after the second inning. Then in the fifth inning, they got the bases loaded and didn’t score but one run out of it. I think she just took a deep depth and the defense turned around and got out of it,” Nester said. “I told the girls I am proud of them. We got behind, but we came back the next inning and matched the runs and took the lead back. Then we got our cushion back in the sixth.”
Durnil went 2-for-4 with two runs and 2 RBIs to lead the Cavs. Davidson and Dalton each had one hit and 2 RBIs, while Lindsey went 2-for-4 and scored two runs. Walker also drove in a run and scored another in a 2-for-4 effort.
P. Henry 040 010 0 - 5 8 5
Carroll 150 004 x - 10 11 1
Eichelberger and Dill (PH); Davidson and Lindsey (CC). WP – Davidson. LP – Eichelberger. 2B – Snider, Eichelberger (PH); Durnil, Strickland (CC). HR – Dill (PH).