Kelly finally finds its groove vs. Jackson

Friday, September 10, 2004

The Hawks scored four runs in the sixth inning for a 5-1 victory.

By Jeremy Joffray

Southeast Missourian

A senior-laiden Kelly softball team has had its share of problems this season hitting in the clutch.

For five innings Thursday at Jackson, the Hawks looked like they might continue that trend. But then came the sixth inning, and Kelly's bats came to life. The Hawks (4-2) put together four hits and four runs in the inning, including a bases-clearing triple by junior Mindy Robert, and went on to defeat the Indians 5-1.

"That was our third inning with the bases loaded, and you're thinking it's deja vu all over again," Kelly coach Rhonda Ratledge said. "Thank goodness they started hitting."

Kelly's four-run sixth inning nearly ended up with the Hawks coming up scoreless. With two on and no out, Kelly Essner smacked a hit over the infielders only to have the lead runner gunned down on a close play at the plate.

Ratledge said sending the runner was the best bet.

"You've got to take advantage of every bag you can get," she said.

Jackson (1-6) replaced starter Hannah Fowler with Darla Mangles after the Essner hit. Kelly loaded the bases for the third straight inning after holding the runner at third on a sacrifice bunt. Rachel Kline then delivered the game-winning run with a single. After a force-out at home, Robert launched a shot over the left fielder's head for three more runs.

The five runs were more than enough for Kelly starter Essner, who struck out 12 and allowed only two hits and one unearned run.

Jackson's lone run came in the second inning. Jessica Pitts reached on an error, stole second, then stole third and scored when the catcher's throw went into the outfield.

Jackson coach Julie Rushing said her team simply could not gain any offensive momentum from thwarting Kelly's rallies.

"Two innings with the bases loaded and we got out, we just couldn't carry it over to our bats," she said.

Essner scored Kelly's first run in the first inning after reaching on a walk and stealing second and third.

Robert picked up a pair of hits for Kelly.

Kelly will play at the Incarnate Word Tournament this weekend, while Jackson travels to the Seckman Tournament.

"We're just a lot better than we're playing right now," Rushing said. "It's hard for them and it's hard for me. We just have to come together as a team. I'm pretty sure once we do we'll be good."

Kelly 5, Jackson 1

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WP -- Kelly Essner. LP -- Hannah Fowler. 2B -- Jessica Burnett (K). 3B -- Mindy Robert (K). Multiple hits --Kelly, Robert 2-3, Summer Proctor 2-3. Records --Kelly 4-2, Jackson 1-6.

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