Rams advance in district tournament

Friday, October 10, 2008
ELIZABETH DODD ~ edodd@semissourian.com Scott City's Melanie Lacey throws to first baseman Rachel Reed for an out during the seventh inning of the Rams' 2-0 victory Thursday in the Class 2 District 2 tournament at Benton.

BENTON -- Scott City coach Sally O'Brien said she knew nothing about the St. Pius softball team entering Thursday's first-round Class 2 District 2 contest with the Lancers.

With no idea which of her three pitchers would matchup best against the Lancers, O'Brien selected sophomore Melanie Lacey to start simply because of her velocity.

Right choice.

Lacey flirted with a no-hitter in her first district start. She received strong defense support while tossing a complete-game as the No. 4 Rams beat the No. 5 Lancers 2-0 at Kelly High School.

The Rams (7-13) advanced to the second round, where they will face top-seeded Kelly at 2 p.m. today. The Lancers (8-16) were eliminated.

"I was really anxious to play," Lacey said. "I was really proud of my defense. They helped me out a lot."

Lacey said because her team was dismissed from school early to play at noon, she missed some of her favorite classes, but she hardly missed a beat on the mound.

She took a no-hitter into the fifth and allowed just two hits in the game. Lacey (4-2) struck out four and walked two.

The sophomore, who primarily played junior varsity last fall, has pitched 53 innings this year, allowing 39 hits. She had a 1.98 ERA entering Thursday.

Lacey and junior catcher Lindsey Hadley played together in the offseason, with the Jackson Krusherz, and worked to improve Lacey's mechanics and pitch selection.

"She's picked up her mechanics, and that's helped with her speed and accuracy," Hadley said. "[Today she was] following through on her fastball and her rise was working."

The Rams scored their two runs -- both unearned -- in the first. Leadoff hitter Holli Shemonia walked, and the St. Pius defense followed with three straight errors.

The Rams' defense helped protect the 2-0 lead. Lacey walked Meaghan Coleman to open the inning, and the next batter, Colleen Horton, popped up a bunt attempting to sacrifice. Hadley made the catch and fired to first base, doubling off Coleman.

"I envisioned it all in my head right before it happened," Hadley said. "Most of the time when we're expecting a bunt, we try the rise hoping it will be popped up."

St. Pius' Melissa Collins singled to open the fifth and was later sacrificed over to third with one out. But Collins was stranded as Lacey got two flyouts to end the threat.

"That was extremely important," Lacey said. "If they would have scored, it would have been chaos. We would've been really nervous and could have made errors."

St. Pius0000000--024
Scott City200000X--221

WP -- Melanie Lacey 4-2. LP -- Alyssa Portell. Records -- Scott City 7-13, St. Pius 8-16.

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