(Photos by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON--The Sikeston Lady Bulldog softball team used stellar defense and sound hitting to surge past the Poplar Bluff Lady Mules in a 6-2 victory Friday afternoon at the Sikeston Sports Complex. With the win, the Lady Bulldogs improve to 2-1 on the season.
"We've had two hard days of practice, working mainly on defense," Sikeston head coach Tiffany King said. "I tell my girls defense wins ballgames. No matter how good you hit the ball, defense is what will get you the win. They showed that today."
"I've been focusing on watching the ball into my glove and making good throws," Henson said. "(Good defense) helps because if I make an error, people get down and good defense keeps everyone positive."
The pitching of Sarah Hopson was once again more than adequate to get the job done for the Lady Bulldogs. Hopson pitched seven innings allowing only one earned run and eight hits, while walking one batter.
"Sarah's mental toughness and preparation make a huge difference." King said. "Both my pitchers her (Sarah Hopson) and Syndey (Davied) have worked hard over the summer and are confident in everything they do."
However, Hopson gives all the credit to her teammates.
"I try not to be negative," Hopson said. "Thats easy because our team is like a family and its great to have them out there backing me up. When you have that behind you its easy to stay positive."
Poplar Bluff struck the first blow in Friday's game when Kelly Kelm's RBI double drove in Breanna Moore in the top of the first inning.
Sikeston didn't stay down for long as Kristen King reached home on a Lady Mule throwing error tying the mark at 1-1.
Sikeston began to pull away in the third inning off the bats of Davied and King, who each drove in runs to make the game 3-1 Lady Bulldogs.
The Lady Mules responded in kind with an RBI single of their own off the bat of Meagan Stucker in the top of the fourth making the score 3-2.
Sikeston extended its lead in the bottom of the fifth when Mary Deason reached home on Jamie Reed's RBI and Sydney David came home on the subsequent Poplar Bluff throwing error. Both runs involved home plate collisions and Poplar Bluff catcher Chelsea Coleman was forced to leave the game with an injury.
The Lady Bulldogs put the game away in the sixth when Deason hit an RBI triple that brought Emilie Martin across the plate to bring the tally to 6-2.
King cited the hitting of her team, especially her first two batters as a key to success. Leadoff batter, Martin, was one-for-one in four plate appearance with a double, two walks and a sacrifice bunt. Second batter Hopson was two-for-three with two bunt singles and a sacrifice bunt.
"Emilie Martin is in the lead off spot because she watches the ball real well, and thats what we need out of our lead off hitter." King said. "Sarah Hopson had some great bunts as well."
Every member of the Sikeston squad either had at least one hit except Kelsie Cooper, who had a valuable sacrifice bunt to move a runner into scoring position.
"Up and down the line up we're getting stronger and stronger at the plate, hitting and bunting," King said.
Two freshmen are making valuable contributions to the Lady Bulldogs this year. Elizabeth Rains was one-for-three in the ninth spot batting Friday.
"Elizabeth Rains, this was her first varsity appearance and it was impressive to see a freshmen like her come out and hit the ball the way she did." King said.
Kristen King started at second base for Courtney Collins, who could miss up to five weeks with ligament damage in here left hand she suffered in Tuesday's game.
"Its impressive to see a freshmen step into that role, she's very mentally tough" King said.
Poplar Bluff head coach Dustin Benson feels complacency cost his team the game Friday.
"We did play hard," Benson said. "I felt that we weren't as mentally alert as we could have been. Mental errors hurt us a lot today."
King says that starting 2-1 is a great start for her team.
"From this year from last year we have had a 110 percent turn around, in attitude and confidence," said King. "When you have the confidence things are going to go your way."
The Lady Bulldogs show serious signs of coming together and melding as a team.