Kelly forced to work overtime, beats Central 5-3

Thursday, September 13, 2012
Kelly’s Alexis Dock makes contact during the Hawk’s extra-inning win over the Central Tigers Wednesday. (ADAM VOGLER)

Missed opportunities and miscues threatened Kelly High School's perfect softball record.

But freshman pitcher Alexis Dock and her teammates were able to get their act together just in time Wednesday afternoon.

"It was very nerve-wracking," Dock said.

Kelly trailed host Central 2-0 through four innings before going ahead 3-2 and then relinquishing the lead.

Kelly courtesy runner McKynlee Neumeyer rounds third on her way home during the Hawks’ extra-inning win over the Central Tigers Wednesday. (ADAM VOGLER)

The Hawks, tied with the Tigers 3-3 after the regulation seven innings, pushed across two eighth-inning runs to post an exciting 5-3 victory.

"It was definitely a comeback," Kelly sophomore first baseman Kristy Brucker said.

The Hawks (8-0) have made a strong comeback since last season, when an extremely young team that featured six freshmen saw its string of eight straight district championships end.

Perennial state Class 2 power Kelly is still a young squad, with 10 freshmen and sophomores on its 15-player roster. But the Hawks' improvement has been pronounced.

"We have really improved," coach Rhonda Ratledge said. "We're still young, but the girls have really stepped up and become varsity players."

Ratledge knows the Hawks are not likely to go undefeated because they still have games remaining against some of the area's better larger-school programs and compete this weekend in the rugged Jackson tournament.

A laughing Ratledge said she wouldn't even welcome the pressure of a perfect regular season.

"It's okay to lose," she said with a smile.

It looked for a while like that might happen Wednesday as the Hawks made things difficult on themselves.

All three Central runs were unearned thanks to four errors. The Tigers (2-6) managed just four hits.

Kelly banged out 14 hits but stranded 11 runners.

"It shouldn't have went to eight innings," Ratledge said. "But I told them they didn't let things get them down. They showed a lot of spirit."

Dock especially didn't let things get her down, not even after she was called for an illegal pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth inning.

That sent home a run, allowing Central to tie the contest at 3-3.

"I got frustrated at times but overall I thought I kept my composure," Dock said.

Dock pitched all eight innings. She struck out five and walked three.

"We've got a good combination with Alexis and Kristy [Brucker], our pitcher from last year," Ratledge said.

Kelly took the lead for good with its two-run eighth inning. Both runs were earned although Central did help out with two of its three errors on the day.

Senior third baseman Sydney Vinyard led off with a single to left field and advanced to second when the ball was booted for an error.

Central’s Bailey Kratochvil reacts after being called out at home during the Tigers’ extra-inning loss to the Kelly Hawks Wednesday. (ADAM VOGLER)

Senior DP Darbe Backfisch, after failing to get a sacrifice but down on two attempts, advanced Vinyard to third anyway with a ground ball to second.

Sophomore center fielder Samantha Ratledge, who had not gotten the ball out of the infield in four plate appearances, drilled a triple to the right-field fence as Vinyard trotted home with the go-ahead run.

"Just hit ‘em home, cause I haven't been doing good this whole game," Ratledge said about her approach.

Kelly got insurance on sophomore left fielder Morgan LeDure's RBI ground ball to third base. It was booted for an error although it's questionable whether Central would have had a play at the plate.

Dock retired the Tigers in order in the bottom of the eighth to secure the win.

"We are so close. Every game seems like it's been down to the wire," Central coach Amy Blattel said. "As long as the kids stay positive, we'll break through.

"Kelly has a very good team. They're always good. They put a lot of pressure on you. Our kids battled."

Rhonda Ratledge said one of Kelly's biggest areas of improvement since last year is on offense.

Eight of Kelly's nine batters hit safely Tuesday.

"We got solid hits," Ratledge said. "We struggled last year. We've focused on it."

Dock and Brucker led Kelly with three hits apiece. Vinyard and junior shortstop Jade Rampley both added two hits. Vinyard and Samantha Ratledge each scored twice.

"We've definitely improved on that since last year," Brucker said of the hitting.

Sophomore catcher Sarah Kitchen had two of Central's four hits.

Junior Kadie Orenstein took the loss in the circle while working all eight innings. She allowed four earned runs, struck out four and walked one.

"I credit Cape. They battled," coach Ratledge said.

Central scored first in the second inning. Kitchen led off with a double and advanced to third when a throw got away for an error. Junior courtesy runner Baylee Bockhorst came home on an RBI ground out by sophomore DP Winnie Smee.

The Tigers went up 2-0 in the third inning. Senior second baseman Bailey Kratochvil triped with two outs and scored when a throw got away for an error.

"Just stupid, mental things," Ratledge said.

Kelly got on the board in the fifth inning on a two-out RBI double by senior first baseman Jessica Worth.

The Hawks scored twice with two outs in the sixth inning to take a 3-2 lead. Dock's RBI single tied things and the go-ahead run came around on an error.

A weird bottom of the sixth saw Central forge a 3-3 deadlock. The inning featured two errors on one play -- an infield pop fly that was dropped and then thrown away -- and Dock's illegal pitch.

But the Hawks regrouped and finished strong.

"This team had a lot of heart and soul today," Ratledge said.

Kelly00001202--5144
Central01100100--343

WP -- Alexis Dock. LP -- Kadie Orenstein. 3B -- Samantha Ratledge (K), Bailey Kratochvil (C). 2B -- Jessica Worth (K), Sarah Kitchen (C). Multiple hits -- Kelly: Dock 3-5, Kristy Brucker 3-4, Sydney Vinyard 2-3, Jade Rampley 2-4. Central: Kitchen 2-4. Records -- Kelly 8-0, Central 2-6.

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