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Power Surge

Lady Demon bats sizzle --- 4 HRs --- in 13-3 thumping of Darlington

Posted: April 12, 2018 11:54 a.m.
Updated: April 13, 2018 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

LUGOFF-ELGIN’S SAVANNAH GRIGSBY reaches for third base while avoiding the tag from Darlington’s Gracie Epps as the Lady Demon junior successfully stole the bag in the first inning of Wednesday’s win over the Lady Falcons at Shelby S. Miles Memorial Field.

It may have bothered some neighbors but, it was music to James Marlow’s ears.

While most students throughout Kershaw County were in full-out relaxation mode during last week’s spring break, the pinging of softballs being smacked by aluminum bats provided the background noise Lugoff-Elgin’s Shelby S. Miles Memorial Field. 

Not wanting to get rusty due to the 11-day layoff, the Lady Demons took batting practice for more than three hours on three days to prepare for a home stretch to the season which would help determine their postseason fate. 

Wednesday night, against visiting Region 6-4A foe Darlington, Marlow’s girls reaped the fruits of their labors with a 13-3 win over the Lady Falcons in a game stopped in the middle of the fifth inning by the 10-run rule.

L-E (12-6-1; 4-2 in 6-4A) unleashed four home runs --- including two from winning pitcher Bailey Douglas --- in an onslaught in which Mathan Mooneyhan and Kellee Branham also went yard. The hostesses finished the game with 13 hits including three off the bats of Kaley Goerlich and Mooneyhan.

The long ball display brought a smile to Marlow’s face when asked where the power surge came from.

“That was a surprise,” he said, “but, we knew a couple weeks ago, whether it be the competition that we were facing or, not, that we were struggling to hit the ball and square it up … we were popping it up. The girls came over her during spring break for three days and just hit and hit. They were out here for three hours one of those days.

“They have really committed themselves. They’ve stayed out here after practice. I think, one day, they didn’t get out of here until 10:30 (p.m.) It’s something they have really worked on.”

The victory all but sewed up second place in the region for the Lady Demons who, if the numbers work, could find themselves gaining a share of a fourth consecutive conference crown depending on the outcome of next Friday’s game between Hartsville and Darlington. Should Darlington, which is expected to have starting pitcher Madie Andrews back for that contest, defeat the Lady Red Foxes by more than two runs and should L-E defeat cellar-dwelling Lakewood and Crestwood in its final two 6-4A outings, Marlow and company could take the top seed from a circuit which could have three teams finishing with identical 6-2 conference ledgers.

Douglas, who belted a two-run home run in the first and drove a three-run shot to left center an inning later, scattered three hits, while fanning five and not allowing an earned run in a five-inning effort, said she and many of her teammates will be scoreboard-watching in order to obtain news as to the Darlington vs. Hartsville game next week.

“We’ve won the region every time since I’ve been here,” said the Coker College commitment. “It would break my heart almost to not win the region again. But, whatever happens is meant to happen so, we’ll see what happens.”

What happened on Wednesday was a Lady Falcon team which sent Katelyn Church to the mound to try and extend a seven-game win streak. Church was stepping into the circle for Andrews, who was struck by a line drive in her fielding hand in a 3-1 win over L-E on March 16 and was only cleared to return to the playing field on Wednesday in a hitting-only role.

Church was taken deep twice in a four-run bottom of the first which opened with Savannah Grigsby reaching on her first walk of the season and moving to second on a Caitlyn Curry sacrifice bunt. After stealing third, Grigsby walked home when Mooneyhan belted a two-run blast beyond the fence in left center. After Kaley Goerlich followed with a single, Douglas sent a two-run bomb to center for a 4-0 lead.

Consecutive two-out errors by the Lady Demons allowed DHS (7-4, 4-1 in 6-4A) to cut the lead in half after an inning and a half.

The Lady Demons answered by posting another four-spot in the second.

Curry drew a one-out walk before Mooneyhan sent a single to right. A pair of wild pitches from Church allowed Curry to score while the second sent Mooneyhan to third. After Goerlich walked, Douglas clubbed her second round-tripper; this, a three-run missile to left center for an 8-2 lead.

“I’ve never seen (Church) before,” Douglas said. “I honestly didn’t expect that to come out of me, at all. I was just looking for a base hit. 

“The first pitch (on the first home run) looked nice. It had a natural screwball spin and was right down the middle. I tried to line it and it went out. The second at-bat, it was the same exact pitch … it was nothing different.”

L-E’s home run derby continued as Branham opened the third by taking reliever Gracie Epps out of the park with a solo shot to left center for a 9-2 lead. With two gone, Grigsby reached second on a double-error before scoring the 10th run in Curry’s double to right center.

After Church took a liner to the box off an ankle and was forced to leave the game, Church was called back inside the circle to start the fifth. A Goerlich leadoff single turned into the 11th run as she came across on pinch-hitter Sydney’s Branham’s single to center.

The Lady Falcons tacked on a third run in the top of the fifth only for L-E to put this one away by pushing across two runs. Grigsby’s leadoff single was followed by Curry’s RBI double to right. Goerlich then followed up a Mooneyhan single with a base hit to right which plated Curry with the 13th run to bring the contest to an early close.

Church does not pitch with the velocity of DHS ace Andrews. Marlow, who said he was unaware that Andrews was not available to pitch on Wednesday, was pleasantly surprised with how his offense responded to seeing Church for the first time.

“The funny thing is,” he said, “the girls normally complain about seeing slow pitching. We had none of that tonight. The girls kept their hands back, they were patient and they put good swings on the ball. I can recall, maybe, two pop-ups tonight.

“I have to give them a lot of credit for their patience and fort making great adjustments.”

The seeds of the offensive success were planted last week in practice which, Douglas said, made perfect on Wednesday.

“Actually, it was just BP (batting practice),” she said of last week’s three practice sessions. “We just tried to work on our fundamentals and on our technique and trying to hit ground balls and line drives instead of pop-ups.”

“That was a surprise,” he said, “but, we knew a couple weeks ago, whether it be the competition that we were facing or, not, that we were struggling to hit the ball and square it up … we were popping it up. The girls came over her during spring break for three days and just hit and hit. They were out here for three hours one of those days.

“They have really committed themselves. They’ve stayed out here after practice. I think, one day, they didn’t get out of here until 10:30 (p.m.) It’s something they have really worked on.”

The victory all but sewed up second place in the region for the Lady Demons who, if the numbers work, could find themselves gaining a share of a fourth consecutive conference crown depending on the outcome of next Friday’s game between Hartsville and Darlington. Should Darlington, which is expected to have starting pitcher Madie Andrews back for that contest, defeat the Lady Red Foxes by more than two runs and should L-E defeat cellar-dwelling Lakewood and Crestwood in its final two 6-4A outings, Marlow and company could take the top seed from a circuit which could have three teams finishing with identical 6-2 conference ledgers.

Douglas, who belted a two-run home run in the first and drove a three-run shot to left center an inning later, scattered three hits, while fanning five and not allowing an earned run in a five-inning effort, said she and many of her teammates will be scoreboard-watching in order to obtain news as to the outcome of the Darlington vs. Hartsville game next week.

“We’ve won the region every time since I’ve been here,” said the Coker College commitment. “It would break my heart almost to not win the region again. But, whatever happens is meant to happen so, we’ll see what happens.”

What happened on Wednesday was a Lady Falcon team which sent Katelyn Church to the mound to try and extend a seven-game win streak. Church was stepping into the circle for Andrews, who was struck by a line drive in her fielding hand in a 3-1 win over L-E on March 16 and was only cleared to return to the playing field on Wednesday in a hitting-only role.

Church was taken deep twice in a four-run bottom of the first which opened with Savannah Grigsby reaching on her first walk of the season and moving to second on a Caitlyn Curry sacrifice bunt. After stealing third, Grigsby walked home when Mooneyhan belted a two-run blast beyond the fence in left center. After Kaley Goerlich followed with a single, Douglas sent a two-run bomb to center for a 4-0 lead.

Consecutive two-out errors by the Lady Demons allowed DHS (7-4, 4-1 in 6-4A) to cut the lead in half after an inning and a half.

The Lady Demons answered by posting another four-spot in the second.

Curry drew a one-out walk before Mooneyhan sent a single to right. A pair of wild pitches from Church allowed Curry to score while the second sent Mooneyhan to third. After Goerlich walked, Douglas clubbed her second round-tripper; this, a three-run missile to left center for an 8-2 lead.

“I’ve never seen (Church) before,” Douglas said. “I honestly didn’t expect that to come out of me, at all. I was just looking for a base hit. 

“The first pitch (on the first home run) looked nice. It had a natural screwball spin and was right down the middle. I tried to line it and it went out. The second at-bat, it was the same exact pitch … it was nothing different.”

L-E’s home run derby continued as Branham opened the third by taking reliever Gracie Epps out of the park with a solo shot to left center for a 9-2 lead. With two gone, Grigsby reached second on a double-error before scoring the 10th run in Curry’s double to right center.

After Church took a liner to the box off an ankle and was forced to leave the game, Church was called back inside the circle to start the fifth. A Goerlich leadoff single turned into the 11th run as she came across on pinch-hitter Sydney’s Branham’s single to center.

The Lady Falcons tacked on a third run in the top of the fifth only for L-E to put this one away by pushing across two runs. Grigsby’s leadoff single was followed by Curry’s RBI double to right. Goerlich then followed up a Mooneyhan single with a base hit to right which plated Curry with the 13th run to bring the contest to an early close.

Church does not pitch with the velocity of DHS ace Andrews. Marlow, who said he was unaware that Andrews was not available to pitch on Wednesday, was pleasantly surprised with how his offense responded to seeing Church for the first time.

“The funny thing is,” he said, “the girls normally complain about seeing slow pitching. We had none of that tonight. The girls kept their hands back, they were patient and they put good swings on the ball. I can recall, maybe, two pop-ups tonight.

“I have to give them a lot of credit for their patience and fort making great adjustments.”

The seeds of the offensive success were planted last week in practice which, Douglas said, made perfect on Wednesday.

“Actually, it was just BP (batting practice),” she said of last week’s three practice sessions. “We just tried to work on our fundamentals and on our technique and trying to hit ground balls and line drives instead of pop-ups.”

 

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