The Hawks, however, were their own worst enemy, yielding eight unearned runs, in a 10-5 loss to the Tigers on Friday.
"Today, we beat ourselves as much as they beat us," said Kelly coach Cory Johnson. "There were at least seven errors and maybe two or three more that were questionable."
Kelly (4-4) got off to a rocky start with three first-inning errors which helped Clearwater jump to a 3-0 lead. Three of the first four Tiger batters reached on infield fielding miscues.
Kelly starter Caleb Daughhetee, victim of the porous defensive support, suffered the loss. He was charged with eight runs in five innings of work, but only two of those runs were earned. Daughhetee recorded four strikeouts and two walks.
"I could take those errors if it was freshmen and sophomores making them, but we've got seniors making these mistakes," said Johnson. "I don't know if it's lack of concentration, their focus isn't there--but we've got to have those guys stepping up and making plays."
Kelly managed to burst out of the 3-0 hole with five runs in the second inning.
With two outs and the leadoff hitter, Jon Simpher, aboard via a base on balls, the Hawks' Russell Carroll kept the inning alive with a bloop single in no-
mans land over second base.
Dustin LeGrand followed with a RBI single to score Simpher. A walk to Stephen Strobel left the bases jammed for Blake Lee, who lined a shot into the right field corner to plate three runs.
Lee later scampered home on Jordan Felter's mishandled ground ball to push the Hawks to a 5-3 lead.
The offensive lift, however, didn't translate to the defensive side as another critical error with two outs in the third inning led to two more unearned runs for Clearwater which knotted the score at 5.
Clearwater (8-0) kept pecking away, tacking on three runs in the fourth. A walk, a passed ball and a RBI single allowed the Tigers to retake the lead at 6-5.
Then, with the bases loaded, a Hawk throwing error on a force play at the plate ushered another run home while the bases remained full of Tigers. A third run crossed the plate on a sacrifice fly to up the margin to three at 8-5.
Meanwhile, Clearwater's southpaw starter Logan Brinkley settled down to blank the Hawks the rest of the way. He gave up five runs on five hits in the complete-game effort. Brinkley fanned 11 and walked four.
With Dallas Tew on in relief, Clearwater closed the scoring at 10-5 with two final runs in the sixth.
Tew fared no better than Daughhetee as the two runs charged to him were unearned, also. Tew issued two hits and one walk in two innings.
Lee topped the Hawks with two hits, while Tew, Carroll and LeGrand had a hit apiece.
"We've got to go back to work," said Johnson. "We've got a lot of season ahead of us. Our main focus is to get better, get better and get better for the district tournament."
Kelly is looking at a big week ahead with a Tuesday game against Portageville, Cape Central on Wednesday, Notre Dame on Thursday and the Scott County Tournament, which will be contested at Oran and Kelly, on tap for the weekend.