Story & Photos
By Carl Holcomb
A fifth inning home run by Jessica Smith put East Hardy up by two runs, but the Yellow Jackettes respond with timely hitting plus help of errors to rally for a 3-2 victory in Moorefield last Thursday.
“We had a couple errors. Going through my mind when they scored, I knew we had to buckle down and not wait until the last inning to make our bats come alive,” Moorefield coach Tammie Ayers remarked.
They started to hit off her, so we put in Hanna. We made hits when we needed to tonight. Hanna came through with a clutch hit. Emma had an awesome diving catch out there. I thought we played well and played well as a team all the way through. The county rivalry, it’s always wonderful when the blue and gold comes out on top.”
The second installment of the Hardy Girls Softball Showdown was a pitcher’s duel for the first four innings compared to the last meeting.
[private] “Jessica Smith’s bat has been hot recently and this was her second career home run,” East Hardy coach Ashley Dove stated.
“She had an outstanding catch in the outfield as well. The girls came in mentally ready this time and I think that was big difference. Up until the sixth inning, they were perfect especially on defense. I was very proud of them for that and they’ve really improved. It’s nice to see where they’ve come since the beginning of the season, especially against Moorefield. It was a very good call by Coach Ayers to put that flex in there and she did her job.
My pitcher did her job the whole game too. I wish we could have put a glove on it and prevented a run or two. That’s just the way the cookie crumbled.”
It appeared it was going to a be a quick game from the beginning as the Lady Cougars went down in order as Moorefield pitcher Emma Baker had assistance from the defense as Rebekah Markwood caught a line drive by East Hardy’s Skye Metzer, Lexi Strawderman flew out to Anna Riggleman in left field and Julia Hahn popped up to Baker.
Markwood hit a line drive to East Hardy’s Emma Baker for the first out with Brooke Miller pitching, then Moorefield’s Emma Baker reached on an error by Hahn.
Macie Zirk made a sacrifice hit to Baker at third base, then Riggleman flew out to Emily Yates in right field which ended the frame.
In the second inning, East Hardy failed to get on base again as Miller grounded out to Markwood, Baker flew out to Paige Crites, and Leanna Basye struck out.
Bethany Smith grounded out for the Yellow Jackettes and Sumer Flinn was issued a walk before Cali Kessel struck out and Alyssa Vetter flew out.
Jessica Smith popped out to begin the third inning for the Lady Cougars, then Chelsea Keller drew a full-count walk and flex Emily Yates came in to run and wasn’t brought home as Madison Strawderman flew out and Metzer grounded out.
In the bottom of the third inning, Crites hit a leadoff single into right field and was stranded on a pair of groundouts and a flyout.
East Hardy went down in order during the fourth inning on two groundouts sandwiching a flyout.
Riggleman’s grounder was fielded by Hahn and the throw to first base was a bit high and bounced off Basye’s glove allowing Riggleman to advance to second base.
Jessica Smith made an over the shoulder grab in left field running toward the fence to rob a hit by Bethany Smith, then Flinn flew out to Lexi Strawderman and Miller collected the ball hit by Kessel for a groundout at first base denying a scoring opportunity.
After a groundout, the Lady Cougars got a base runner as Basye doubled just over Crites in center field.
Jessica Smith smashed a two-run home run over the left center fence to give East Hardy a 2-nil edge.
Keller grounded out to Flinn and Madi Strawderman flew out to Crites to end the side.
A diving attempt in right field by Emily Yates couldn’t corral the blooper by Vetter for a double.
Miller countered with a strikeout to Crites, then Markwood made a sacrifice bunt to advance Vetter, but Yates made the final catch to send the game into the sixth inning off the bat of Baker.
Metzer ripped a double into center field in the top of the sixth inning for the Lady Cougars and advanced on a passed ball.
Moorefield’s Hanna Carlson came in as the relief pitcher for Baker, who moved to left field and made a diving catch on a fly ball from Lexi Strawderman which kept Metzer at third base.
Hahn hit into a fielder’s choice with the throw forcing Metzer to dive back safely to third base.
Zirk stepped to the plate for the Yellow Jackettes and hit a towering shot just beyond first base and Madi Strawderman attempted to track it down, but the ball ricocheted off her glove allowing the first runner on board with Katlyn Tompkins coming in as the courtesy runner.
Riggleman hit into a fielder’s choice out at second base with a throw from Hahn to Strawderman.
Smith and Flinn connected for back-to-back singles into center field which loaded the bases for Moorefield.
Carlson replaced Kessel at the plate and initially sent two runs home on a grounder into right field, but the throw to third base went awry and the bases cleared for a 3-2 advantage.
Carlson advanced to third base on a passed ball, but a groundout and flyout ended the inning.
The Lady Cougars had one more chance to turn the contest back in their favor, but it never came to fruition in the seventh inning.
A drop in center field by Riggleman allowed Jessica Smith to get aboard the base path, then Keller made a sacrifice bunt.
Bethany Smith and Vetter collided on a pop-up by Madi Strawderman and the ball fell off the glove to the ground, but it was just in foul territory forcing Strawderman to return to the batter’s box.
Strawderman flew out to Riggleman for the second out, then Baker tracked down a fly ball by Metzer in foul territory for the final out.
The Yellow Jackettes remain undefeated in the Hardy Girls Softball Showdown this season. [/private]