(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Trying to fight back from a six-run deficit against the Kelly Lady Hawks, the Sikeston Lady Bulldogs mounted a three-run rally in the bottom of the seventh before falling 6-3.
"It took awhile for our bats to wake up," Sikeston assistant coach Paige Silverthorn said. "Same story over and over again, it's our errors that killed us this game. At the end we showed a little drive, a little want for it and we hit the ball and put it in play.
"We almost came back, bit it was just too little, too late."
Down by six after only mustering two hits through the first six innings of play, the Lady Bulldogs offense finally sparked to life with one out in the bottom of the seventh.
Facing a gusty wind blowing in, Maggie Shepherd connected for a line drive to deep centerfield that rolled to the fence for a triple. With a Kayla Fodge grounder to the second baseman in the next at bat, Shepherd scored to break up the shutout.
Down to their final out, the Lady Bulldogs' bottom of the order was able to keep their team's chances alive as Annie Ramey singled up the middle before coming around to score from second base when Lauren Graham hit a line drive up the third base line.
Coming in to pinch hit in the No. 9 spot, Kristen Baker closed Sikeston to within 6-3 when she hit a ground ball up the third base side to score Graham from third.
With no room for error, however, a pop fly to the left fielder in the next at bat closed the door on the Lady Bulldog's comeback hopes.
"I feel like we play really tight and then we have just that one inning and it seems like that one little error comes back around and gets us," Kelly head coach Rhonda Ratledge said. "We played tight all seven innings and then we had that one out and put that first runner on."
Already holding a 2-0 lead, it was Kelly's ability to take advantage of several Lady Bulldogs miscues in the fifth inning that allowed the Lady Hawks to build a sizable lead.
After a throwing error by the third baseman left runners on second and third early in the frame, Stephanie Worth brought home the first run of the four-rally with a grounder that got past the pitcher, scoring Sydney Vinyard from third.
Putting Kelly ahead 4-0, Samantha Ratledge hit a grounder to the shortstop to bring home Kristy Brucker, who had advanced to third the previous at bat.
Later in the inning, with the bases loaded and one out, Brucker came home when the catcher dropped a ball on an attempted force out at the plate, followed by Emily Grojean plating the final run of the on a grounder to short.
"Once you can get a couple of girls in there that are hitting and string some together it just gets the whole lineup going all the way through," Ratledge said. "That's kind of where Sikeston was headed in that last inning."
It was in the third that the Lady Hawks scored their first two runs of the game as Grojean and Jade Rampley led of the inning with back-to-back singles.
They were brought home when Vinyard and Brucker laid down consecutive bunts to put Kelly up 2-0.
Allowing all three runs on six hits and a walk, Brucker picked up the win. While holding Sikeston scoreless through the first six innings, she struck out five, including the side in the bottom of the third.
After having to fight through a rough inning late in Kelly's 9-7 loss to Scott City the day prior, Ratledge was please to see her ace come back strong.
"She threw much better today and we talked about that," Ratledge said. "She didn't throw her rise ball, drop ball or change up. She didn't throw much of it yesterday and I got on to her and the catcher.
"They have to throw that. You have to mix those pitches in. One of her change ups today she got called for a strike and another where they swung at it. She had another two that looked good coming in that floated in."
Sikeston (2-7) will travel to East Prairie today to play the Lady Eagles at 4 p.m. while Kelly (7-2) will travel to Twin Rivers to play the Lady Royals on Tuesday at 4 p.m.