Last spring, the Lady Eagles finished the season 13-2 with one of their two losses coming to Twin Rivers 2-0 in eight innings and coach Steve Rogers knew the Lady Royals would be formidable again this season.
"We knew they were going to have a good ballclub coming back," Rogers said. "They play in the fall and coach Brown does a good job with them. They have a good team and I'm real glad we got the win."
The game looked like a pitcher's duel until NMCC broke the game open in the fifth inning with the help of two freshmen.
Leading 1-0 with one out, Lady Eagle freshman Dallas Campbell scorched a pinch hit single. Fellow classmate Meredith Stanley then followed with a single to left-center field and after an error on the throw into the infield, Campbell stood on third and Stanley on second.
Campbell then used her speed to score on a wild pitch while Stanley scored on a single by sophomore Sara Chapin giving NMCC a 3-0 lead. After a fielder's choice and an error, clean-up hitter Shelby Lawrence ripped a base hit to left to score Anna Manley and give NMCC a 4-0 cushion.
"Our freshmen, Dallas Campbell and Merideth Stanley, got our big rally started with base hits," Rogers said. "The girls swung the bats up and down the lineup. I was real pleased with the way we played."
"Our freshman, we love them, they're awesome," Lawrence said. "We have eight freshmen this year and we're glad to have them on the team."
While the Lady Eagles were taking advantage of their scoring chances, Twin Rivers left two scoring chances go to waste in the early innings, as NMCC pitcher Kelly Robey buckled down at the right times.
In the second inning, Lady Royals clean-up hitter Cindy Nippe turned a 12-pitch at bat into a double off Robey with nobody out. Nippe advanced to third on a wild pitch, but Robey struck out the next three hitters to get out of the inning.
The following inning, Darra Reed reached on an error for Twin Rivers. Reed then tried to advance from first to third on a bunt attempt, but was tagged out by NMCC's Samantha Hunter for the first out of the inning.
The Lady Eagles weren't out of danger however, as Twin Rivers loaded the bases and Nippe, again, stepping to the plate with two outs. Nippe drilled the ball to right field, but NMCC right fielder Courtney Robinson came up throwing and got Nippe out at first to end the threat.
"I'm real pleased with our defense," Rogers said. "Courtney Robinson threw a gal out from right field. We had a gal try to go first to third and Sam Hunter got the play at third. Our defense shined. Shelby played real well behind the plate."
Robey said she doesn't mind the pressure situations.
"Pressure is my defense against people," Robey said. "I like the pressure."
"(Robey) doesn't get in many jams but she is real good about getting out of them," Rogers said. "To hold that team to one run she just did a heck of a job."
Robey earned the win, throwing all seven innings. She allowed one run off four hits while striking out 13 and walking none.
"I think I did OK but my defense really backed me up," Robey said. "That is what won us the game."
After getting out of jams in the second and third innings, NMCC took the lead with a single run in the fourth. Lawrence smashed a base hit with two outs and Campbell entered the game as a courtesy runner. Hunter then advanced Campbell to third with a single. The freshman then scored on a wild pitch, giving the Lady Eagles a 1-0 lead.
Lawrence led all hitters, going 3-for-3 while also turning in a terrific performance behind the plate.
"Since we are used to Kelly we have to get used to the slower pitchers and you just have to stand up there and make sure you are relaxed," Lawrence said. "Once you get up there you just have to not think about it and just hit the ball."
"(Shelby's) been a four-year starter for us behind the plate and we're sure going to miss her next year, but we are sure enjoying her this spring," Rogers said. "She's one of our leaders. The seniors are wanting to go out with a bang and have a big year."
Twin Rivers scored their only run in the sixth inning when Nippe who singled, scored on a single from Lexi Stockton. Nippe had two of the Lady Royals four hits.
With the win NMCC improves to 2-0 and will be off until April 5 when they host Oak Ridge.
Twin Rivers 000 001 0 -- 1
NMCC 000 130 X -- 4
WP -- Kelly Robey. LP -- Chelsea Crain. Multiple hitters -- (TR) Cindy Nippe 2-3; (NMCC) Shelby Lawrence 3-3. 2B -- (TR) Nippe 1.