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Oran softball team uses big first inning to reach district final
POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- Oran took advantage of an extra out Thursday in the Class 1 District 1 semifinals.
The Lady Eagles scored four times in the first inning following a two-out error and advanced to the championship game by beating Neelyville 4-1 at Three Rivers College.
"It's easier, but it would be nice if we got more than four runs," Oran's Anna Jones said about pitching with the lead. "It was kind of stressful but we did good."
Jones struck out eight, allowed four hits and walked two in seven innings. The lefty was a two-out double shy of a shutout and retired the final seven hitters in order.
"Her ball is moving so much it's hard to center it," Oran coach Jim Eftink said. "She's not a strikeout [pitcher], but it's hard to center her ball and hit anything solid with it."
Jones hit a double down the left-field line with one out in the first inning. She scored following a two-out error in which the Neelyville's first baseman bobbled a throw from her second baseman.
Bailey Carlyle followed with a line drive to left that a diving Brooke Sheppard got a glove on but couldn't secure, allowing Jones to score. Another error on a ground ball to the left side brought home Tatum May, then Allie Cummins plugged the left-field gap for a two-run double.
"We got some good hits, and it was a good thing we did because we needed every single one of them," Eftink said. "The bats just went to sleep."
Neelyville pitcher Emily Eaker retired 10 of the next 11 she faced before Addie Kielhofner's bunt single to start the fifth. A steal and sacrifice bunt put Kielhofner on third with one out, but Eaker got a line drive and a groundout to end the threat.
Carlyle led off the sixth inning with a double to the left-field gap. After a sacrifice bunt and a bunt for a hit by Cummins, Oran had runners at second and third. But the Tigers got a double play on a bunt in front of the plate, throwing to first then home.
Another leadoff hit in the seventh by Jamie Kern was wasted as Oran left six runners stranded.
"They had some fast runners and put the ball in play," Neelyville coach Summer Ray said. "We didn't execute. Had too many errors, that's all you can say."
Neelyville's lone run came in the third when Ashley Bolt, who had two of the Tigers' four hits, got a one-out infield hit. She stole second and scored on Shelby Moon's two-out double to the left-field gap.
Jones retired the next six before the Tigers put together a two-out rally in the fifth. Bolt's bunt single and a walk to Eaker brought up the tying run, but Jones threw a 2-2 pitch past Moon to end the threat.
Neelyville went in order over the final two innings.
"I couldn't do it without the people behind me," Jones said.
Oran will face Naylor at 4 p.m. today in the championship game. Top-seeded Naylor edged Van Buren 1-0 with a one-hit, 15-strikeout shutout in the other semifinal.
WP -- Anna Jones. LP -- Emily Eaker. 2B -- Shelby Moon (N). Jones (O). Bailey Carlyle (O). Allie Cummins (O). Multiple Hits -- Cummins (O) 2-3. Ashley Bolt (N) 2.