(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Trying to put together a three-game winning streak heading into the postseason, Sikeston saw Naylor starting pitcher Erica Engelman toss a one-hitter on Monday to end the Lady Bulldogs' regular season with a 8-0 loss.
"She was quick, but she was definitely hittable," Sikeston assistant coach Paige Silverthorn said of Engelman. "I feel like we just let the speed scare us. We're a very strong hitting team, but we let her scare us and we shouldn't have."
Before the Lady Bulldogs (9-13) had a chance to get to the plate, the Lady Eagles (20-4) scored the go-ahead run in the top of the first off back-to-back hits from Engelman and Andrea Sullivan to start the game.
Coming back up in the second, Naylor was able to take advantage of a couple Sikeston errors to pull ahead 3-0. Kicking off the frame, Kayla Johnson bunted her way on before an error on the third baseman in the next at bat left runners on first and third with no outs.
It was after Taylor Day had advanced from first to second that Carleigh Lane grounded to the third baseman, who threw to first base for an out. Coming home on the throw to first, Johnson was able to safely cross the plate with Day coming in shortly after on an errant throw to the catcher.
With the Lady Bulldogs offense unable to answer, Naylor continued padding its lead, scoring a run in the third before rallying for two runs in both the fifth and seventh innings.
"We had a couple of errors at the beginning of the game that kind of got us down and it was hard to come back after that," Silverthorn said. "They had a good pitcher, but I feel like they were great hitters and Paige (Sailors) really kept their hitting from making us hurt (too badly)."
Sikeston's best scoring opportunity came in the bottom of the third when Kayla Fodge reached on an error to open the inning before a dropped third strike later in the frame left runners on first and third with two outs. Maintaining their shutout, however, the Lady Eagles caught the Lady Bulldogs trying to steal second to end the inning.
Though the Lady Bulldogs weren't able to come away with the win, they can take some solace in breaking up Engelman's no-hit bid when they were down to their final out.
After a pair of fly outs left them with two outs and no one on in the bottom of the seventh, Sydney King connected on a line drive to right field for the Lady Bulldogs only hit of the game.
"We talked about how to pitch that left hander (King) and I think Engelman missed her spot," Naylor coach Gene Deckard said. "We could tell she was a really good hitter and that if you ever missed your spot on her she was going to make you pay and she did."
Though she lost the shutout, Engelman got a fly out in the next at bat to end the game, allowing only the one hit and no walks while striking out nine.
"She mixed it up, kept them off balance with location and threw just enough off speed pitches that they would be aware of it," said Deckard.
On top of earning the win, Engelman went 2 for 4 at the plate with a triple and run scored. Finishing the game 2 for 3, Darbe Pruett had a pair of doubles while collecting a walk and driving in a run.
With Sikeston's regular season now over, the Lady Bulldogs will set their sights on the Class 4, District 1 tournament. They will open up against Farmington on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Hillsboro.
"I'm very confident that we are a different team than what they saw at the beginning of the season," said Silverthorn of the matchup. "I feel like if we go up there and play like we should and can that we'll come home with a 'W'."