(Photos by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON - Thursday afternoon, a hard hitting Delta Lady Bobcats softball team visited the Sikeston Sports Complex to take on the Lady Bulldogs. The young Sikeston team held their own but a late inning rally came up a little short as the experienced Bobcat squad held on for a 8-5 victory.
After retiring three straight batters in the first, the Lady 'Dogs opened the bottom half of the inning with a golden chance to gain an early advantage. Emilie Martin drew a lead off walk and quickly advanced to third on two consecutive wild pitches by Delta's Kendra Burnett. However, Burnett recovered on the next two batters, striking them both out. A ground ball to the shortstop ended Sikeston early scoring threat.
"We came out a little slow," said Sikeston head coach Tiffany King, "There were a few plays early on that could have set the tone for us, we just could capitalize on our opportunities."
The Lady Bobcats wasted no time in the second as they began with two consecutive hits to lead off the inning. Amanda Drew of Delta then hit a frozen rope to left field but it was tracked down by Sikeston's Kayla Schearer, but in an attempt to double off a Delta runner at second proved costly as an errant throw both runners to advance. Delta used the Sikeston miscues to jump out to a 2-0 lead in the second.
"I really feel that Kaitlyn's home run was a huge turning point in the game for us," said King, "Once our team saw that we could compete with Delta's pitcher you could really see our confidence rise."
The Delta bats came around again in the third and fourth to give the Lady Bobcats a comfortable 6-1 lead heading into the sixth inning. However, the sixth inning is where the Lady Bulldogs made their stand, in hopes to rally past the tough Delta squad.
Schearer, who was 1-for-4 with a single, started the rally with a hard hit ground ball down third base which proved to be to hot for the defense to handle. Next up, Krystal Henson followed Schearer's led as she drew a walk.
With two on and nobody out Sydney Davied hit a routine ground ball to Delta's second basemen but a late bad hop caused the ball to go through the defenders legs allowing Sikeston to tack on a run. After a walk to Mary Deason, Turnbow delivered with an RBI hit that looked to be a fielder's choice, but on a bang bang play at the plate, the runner was called safe as the catcher couldn't hold on to the ball.
Sarah Hopson, 1-for-3 on the game, then got in on the action next delivering with a two-RBI double to the right-center field gap.
"I am extremely proud of the way the girls played in the sixth inning today," said King, "They were down five runs against a tough Delta squad but kept their heads up an really stepped it up."
Sikeston's rally pulled the Lady 'Dogs within one run of tying the Lady Bobcats 6-5 but a key play by Delta's pitcher Burnett brought Sikeston's momentum to an abrupt halt.
With nobody out and runners on second and third a check bunt attempt landed in fair territory. Burnett, quickly jumped on the ball to make a play, looking back to check the runner at third, she faked the throw to first to catch the third base runner in a hot box. The runner was called out at the plate but an alert Delta catcher didn't hesitate as she threw the ball down to third as the second base runner attempted to advance.
The heads up double play proved to be the deciding factor in the outcome of the game. The Delta squad tacked on two more insurance runs in the seventh to edge the Lady Bulldogs 8-5.
"We played really well today," said King, "Our defense was solid other than a few plays in the early innings."
"We are really starting to gel at the right time of the season," she added, "We have gained a lot of confidence here at the end of the season and with only one more game at home, we should be ready to make a run at districts."
Hopson once again went all seven innings allowing just two earned runs on 10 hits and three walks. She also had two strike outs.
Henson went 1-for-2 with a single and two walks while Davied was 1-for-4 with a single and a RBI. Kelsie Cooper also tacked on a single going 1-for-3 in the game.
Delta was lead by pitcher Burnett who went all seven innings for the win, going 4-for-4 with two doubles and two singles to help her cause. Katie Brucker went 2-for-4 with two singles while Jodi Menz had 3-for-4 hitting with a sacrifice RBI. Amanda Seabaugh and Sarah Blattel both got in on the action, each going 1-for-3 with a single and a walk. Also Taylor Smith and Amanda Drew tacked on a hit respectively going 1-for-4.
Sikeston will have their final game of the season at home Monday when they host the Kennett Lady Indians. Opening pitch is scheduled to be released at 4 p.m.