(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
BENTON -- Holding a slim, one run lead going in to the top of the seventh inning Tuesday afternoon, the Kelly Lady Hawks were able to hold off one last rally attempt by the visiting Poplar Bluff Lady Mules to earn the 3-2 win.
With the tying run on third with two outs after reaching on an error, Kelly's Kristen Powell struck out Poplar Bluff's No. 4 hitter to clinch the Lady Hawk's 13th win of the season.
"We still have to cut down our errors," Kelly coach Melanie Heuring said. "I still feel like we have too many errors this close to districts. With one week left we can't (as many as we had today)."
It was an error leading off the top of the first that almost put Kelly in a hole early. With lead-off hitter Karissa Coleman reaching on a misplayed ball by the second, Poplar Bluff went on to load the bases with no outs.
Fortunately for the Lady Hawks, Powell struck out the next three batters to leave the inning unscathed.
"Good inning by Powell to come back and strike the next three out with bases loaded," Heuring said. "That says a lot of her."
Finding its offense in the fourth, Kelly was able to answer Poplar Bluff's one-run rally an inning earlier when Darbe Backfisch hit a drive to centerfield scoring pinch runner, Michaela Gean, from third to tie the game.
Two batters later Emily Grojean brought home the go-ahead run with a shot to right-center field bring home Jessica Worth for the 2-1 advantage.
In what turned out to be the winning run, Kristen Vetter hit a fielder's choice to short with runners on second and third, scoring Jade Rampley.
Closing the gap, but coming up short, Poplar Bluff added the game's final run in the sixth when Carlee Eifert hit a blooper just over the short stop's head to score Elizabeth Boyer from second.
"I think we did well," Worth said. "We could have done better, but overall I think we did well on both offense and defense today."
Worth had three of Kelly's 10 hits on the contest, two singles and a double, while Emily Grojean was the team's other multiple hitter, going 2-for-4.
"We're finally starting to hit and I'm really proud of our team for actually getting our hits down," Grojean said. "But we could have done bunted a little bit better."
Picking up the win, Powell went all seven innings for the Lady Hawks, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out eight.
Next up, Kelly (13-7) will travel to Oran today, where they will play the Lady Eagles at 4 p.m.
Poplar Bluff 001 001 0 - 2
Kelly 000 210 x - 3
WP -- Kristen Powell. LP -- Amy Stucker. Multiple hitters -- (PB) Randi Montgomery 2-4; (K) Emily Grojean 2-4, Jessica Worth 3-3. 2B -- (K) Worth. 3B -- (PB) Montgomery.