Monday, April 15, 2013

SPORTS >> Lonoke girls go deep in three wins

Leader sports editor

The Lonoke softball team has been a good hitting team all season, but hasn’t been known for the long ball.

That changed this week as the Lady Jackrabbits put on a vulgar display of power, hitting three home runs in as many games and reeling off three big wins over Hazen, DeWitt and Stuttgart.

Jacelyn Truelove got the team’s first roundtrip of the season on Monday, highlighting a 13-0 nonconference rout of Hazen. In a rain-shortened 7-1 victory over DeWitt on Tuesday, pitcher Hannah Murray went yard for the team’s second homer of the year.

On Thursday in conference play, leadoff hitter Charley Jo Chesney sent the first pitch of the game skyward and over the fence in straightaway centerfield in a 4-0 victory over the Lady Ricebirds.

We’ve had a lot of confidence in this lineup’s ability to hit all season,” Lonoke coach Laura Park said. “We tell them to just put the bat on the ball and put the ball in play, and they’ve done a good job of doing what we ask them to do. And when they relax, keep their eye on the ball and swing at good pitches, good things happen.”

Truelove followed Chesney’s home run with an infield single and scored on an RBI double to left field by Murray to give Lonoke a quick 2-0 lead.

While the Lady Jackrabbits would add a couple of insurance runs later in the game, the home run was all Murray needed. She gave up just two hits, hit one batter and walked one while striking out seven in the shutout.

She hit the first batter she faced, then got a fielder’s choice grounder and a 4-6-3 double play to end the first inning. Stuttgart cleanup hitter Jamie Maddox got Stuttgart’s first base hit to start the second inning, but Murray finished things off with a pair of strikeouts and a groundball out.

Lonoke got another run in the bottom of the second when nine-hole hitter Candace James single to right field and got all the way to third when the right fielder slipped in wet outfield. Chesney then doubled to right to score James.

Lonoke had a good opportunity to score in the third inning, but Haylee Whitehurst missed a hit-and-run signal and Jessy Lewis was thrown out at second base. Whitehurst then singled to right field but didn’t make it around before the third out.

Another good scoring opportunity went unfulfilled in the fourth for Lonoke, but this time it was just great defense by the Lady Ricebirds. James doubled down the right field line with one out. Chesney then hit a scorching groundball to shortstop. The stop was made and Chesney was thrown out at first. James went for third on the throw, but the relay from first to third was perfectly placed right into James’ sliding line for a 6-3-5 double play.

Lonoke went hitless in the fifth, but added one more in the sixth when Lindsey Roland singled to centerfield and James doubled to left to drive her in.