(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
ORAN -- Acting as Sikeston's leadoff hitter, Sarah Hopson belted a full-count, solo home run in the very first at-bat on Thursday afternoon against the Oran Lady Eagles.
"I knew I had two strikes on me, one came inside then one came right down the middle and I knew I had to hit it as hard as I could," said Hopson. "I knew as soon as I hit it, it was going somewhere."
Hopson, who had three hits and was a triple away from the cycle, set the tone for 17 more Lady Bulldog hits that followed as they took care of Oran, 9-2 at Oran High School.
"The girls were focused and ready to go," Sikeston head coach Tiffany Morgan said. "I've been saying that our hitting was beginning to get turned around and I think finally, it's starting to."
Along with Hopson, Madison Chaney, Sydney Davied and Katie Hines all had three hits apiece while Sarah Dixon and Courtney Collins added two apiece. Collins and Hines were the No. 7 and 9 hitters in the Lady Bulldog's lineup which gave Sikeston a well-rounded effort at the plate.
"The girls that I ask to step up, are finally stepping up," Morgan said. "The bottom half of our lineup is starting to hit, which is what we have to do."
Although Sikeston (8-7) was given an early lead from Hopson, the Lady Eagles fought back in the first two innings with a run in the bottom of the first when Halle Woodfin knocked an RBI double to right-center to score Abbey Anderson.
Oran (7-10) took the lead in the second, when starting pitcher Morgan Todt hit a double to left-center and was later driven in by a Molly McConnell single.
The top of the third inning, however, the Lady Bulldogs gained a lead they would never relinquish after singles by Hines, Chaney and Davied loaded the bases for Elizabeth Bolen who was hit by a pitch to tie the game at two.
In steps Nicki James, who hit a dribbler down the first base line. James barely missed the tag from Woodfin at first scoring Chaney in the process and giving Sikeston the 3-2 lead.
From then on, the Lady Bulldogs took over.
Two hits and four free passes from the Lady Eagles gave Sikeston a 5-2 advantage in the top of the fourth. The Lady Bulldogs scored one more in the fifth on an RBI single from Hopson.
The visitors closed the book on Oran in the sixth, with three runs on five hits including RBI doubles from Collins and Hopson as well as an RBI single from Sydney King.
"They hit the ball really well," Oran head coach Sara Heisserer said. "I don't know if the home run to start the game affected us and the couple of hit by pitches. (Todt) didn't throw bad. She had a couple of walks and I think we had two errors, but they were in a critical situation.
"(Sikeston) had good, legit hits."
Plaguing Oran was the ineffectiveness of their two prominent bats, Amanda Williams and Woodfin; due to Hopson's pitching.
Both Woodfin and Williams were reduced to one hit, however, each were doubles.
"I thought (Hopson) did a very good job of shutting them down today," Morgan said. "They're usually very big offensive threats."
Hopson took the bat out of William's hands twice in her four at-bats by hitting her with pitches.
"(Williams is) definitely one of the better hitters, if not the best hitter on their team," Hopson said. "I definitely did not mean to hit her, but it might have been something that we needed.
"Inside and low. Nothing I could do about it."
"We just wanted to go inside on her so she couldn't get her arms extended," said Morgan. "It worked out for us. I'd rather give up one base than four."
Anderson led the Lady Eagles with two hits, both singles, as Oran had six hits on the day.
Sikeston 102 213 0 -- 9
Oran 110 000 0 -- 2
WP -- Sarah Hopson. LP -- Morgan Todt. Multiple hitters -- (S) Hopson 3-4, Madison Chaney 3-5, Sarah Dixon 2-5, Sydney Davied 3-4, Courtney Collins 2-5, Katie Hines 3-4; (O) Abbey Anderson 2-3. 2B -- (S) Hopson, Collins; (O) Amanda Williams, Halle Woodfin, Todt. HR -- Hopson.