(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
BENTON -- Playing their last home game of the regular season on Wednesday, the Kelly Lady Hawks sent their seniors out on a high note by holding off a late Oran rally to beat the Lady Eagles 3-2.
"It was senior night so they had a little excitement," Kelly coach Rhonda Ratledge said of her girls. "We battled this game kind of like the way we did the Notre Dame game, so we had a little fire behind us and we played small ball.
"Of those three runs, there wasn't one of those balls that a those runs came in on that hit the green."
After taking an early lead with a two-run rally in the second inning before going up 3-0 on another run in third, the Lady Hawks (12-9) saw things tighten up quickly when Oran (10-8) came to the plate in the top of the fifth.
After Courtney Scheeter opened the frame with a single, Addie Kielhofner was able to break up the shutout with a double down the left field line to leave the Lady Eagles trailing by two runs.
When Molly McConnell laid down a sacrifice bunt in the next at bat, the Lady Eagles were able to cut the Lady Hawk's lead to one when Kelly fielded the ball and threw to an uncovered first base bag. With the ball bouncing off the bag and toward the outfield, Kielhofner was able to cross the plate as McConnell advanced to second on the error.
Unfortunately for the Lady Eagles, a runner was caught trying to take third base later in the frame, which was followed by a ground out to the pitcher to end the rally with Oran still trailing 3-2.
Down to their final three outs after going down in order in the sixth, the Lady Eagles quickly popped up and lined out in the seventh before a line drive base hit to left field by Kielhofner put the tying run on first.
Down to its final out, however, Oran saw a ground out to the shortstop end its chance at a comeback.
"We played well," Lady Eagles' coach Wade Sanders said. "Just a couple of mistakes separated us. (Kelly) is an experienced team and they don't make many mistakes and when we do they take advantage of it.
"It just one of those days where we came up a little bit short."
As Ratledge said, it was Kelly's focus on small ball that enabled the Lady Hawks to take an early lead. In their two-run second inning, cleanup hitter Kristy Brucker led off the frame with a base hit before Emily Grojean singled in the first run of the game.
Two at bats later, after moving over to third on a Morgan LeDure single that, Grojean crossed the plate on a ground out to the third baseman to put the Lady Hawks up 2-0.
Scoring Kelly's final run of the afternoon, Samatha Ratledge opened the third inning with a triple before coming home on a Jade Rampley sacrifice in the next at bat.
On the contest the Lady Hawks came away with six hits with Brucker's double and Ratledge's triple representing the only two for extra-bases.
Batting leadoff, Kielhofner led an eight hit performance by the Lady Eagles, going 3 for 3 with a double and a stolen base. She reached in all four plate appearances while driving in and scoring a run.
"Her on-base percentage is just off the charts," Sanders said. "It has to be between .800 and .900. That's why she bats leadoff for us, she's really good."
With his team outhitting Kelly on the game 8-6, Sanders said it was Oran's season long struggle with timely hits that kept the Lady Eagles off the board early.
"Once again we left quite a few runners on base," he said. "I know there was five just through the first three innings. We clawed back, it just wasn't quite enough."