(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
NEW MADRID -- For the last year, the New Madrid County Central softball team had to live with a 2-1 loss to the Kennett Lady Indians last spring. On Wednesday, the Lady Eagles got their revenge.
Taking advantage of an error in the bottom of the fifth, NMCC scored the only run of the game and kept their perfect record alive with a 1-0 victory.
"I couldn't be more pleased," said NMCC coach Steve Rogers. "We've got a great group of girls. (Kennett) starts nine seniors, they're a veteran ballclub and they're well coached. They play in the fall and for us to beat them, even by the score of 1-0, I can't hardly describe it.
"The girls and I have won more than 200 games (in my career) and this has got to be the biggest because (Kennett) is a quality, quality opponent."
The game featured two of Southeast Missouri's top pitchers in NMCC's Kelly Robey and Kennett's Laurel Jones and neither disappointed. Each team was only able to get one hit in the game as both pitchers dominated the hitters.
Robey kept the Kennett hitters off-balance all game, not allowing a runner past second base, striking out 15 while walking one and hitting one batter. Kennett's only hit of the game came in the top of the fifth when Jordan Wagster singled to right.
"The girls played great defense and Kelly was just stellar on the mound today. She just shut them down," Rogers said. "They only had one weak hit to right that we could have very easily threw out at first. Kelly was on top of her game day and we played great defense behind her."
While Robey was cruising on the mound, she also benefited from stellar play in the field, led by second baseman Anna Manley and third baseman Samantha Hunter. Manley had four putouts in the game while Hunter had two and nearly caught a foul ball while crashing into a fence.
"(The defense) played really well today," Robey said. "That is what makes me the most nervous, but I just have to trust them and they really did good today."
While Robey was dominate on the mound, she also had the only hit of the day for NMCC, a double down the right field line in the fourth inning. However it was the fifth inning when the Lady Eagles finally broke through.
Designated hitter Dallas Campbell led off the inning with a walk and stole second. One out later, Katie Rausch hit a sharp ground ball to the shortstop, but the throw was errant and Campbell was able to come around and score.
"That's what you have to do, take advantage of their mistakes," Rogers said. "They made (an error) and it was a big one and we wound up getting a run out of it."
NMCC has uncharacteristically found themselves in close games the last week, beating Portageville 2-0 last week and Charleston 5-1 on Tuesday and with those games fresh on their minds, never flinched after getting the slim lead.
"Kelly and me are pretty good under pressure," said senior catcher Shelby Lawrence. "That's usually when we play our best. The defense had their head on straight. The last couple games have been kind of close, but we knew we had to put our head on right for this game.
"(To win) means a lot. This is definitely the team we've been looking forward to beating all year long."
Jones took the hard-luck loss for Kennett, striking out 10 in six innings while walking two.
"Our hitting could have been better but we played a good team today, so that's to be expected," Robey said.
With the win, NMCC improved to 13-0 and are seeking their third undefeated season in school history.
"After getting beat 2-1 last year we felt like we owed (Kennett) something," Rogers said. "It was a good ballgame and I couldn't be happier. It was just a big win for us."
NMCC will be back in action today when they travel to Bernie.
Kennett 000 000 0 -- 0 1 1
NMCC 000 010 X -- 1 1 1
WP -- Kelly Robey (11-0). LP -- Laurel Jones. 2B -- (N) Robey.