Tuesday, April 16, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Ramblers down Lady Red Devils

Leader sports editor

The Rose Bud softball team gave Jacksonville the ramblin’ blues Monday after beating the Lady Devils 4-2 at Dupree Park. Lady Rambler pitcher Dana Naquin threw a complete-game three hitter while striking out 13 Lady Red Devils and walking three.

Only one of the six total runs scored were earned, but Rose Bud also won 1-0, getting an earned run across the plate in the sixth inning to take a 4-0 lead.

The first three runs of the game were unearned, two in the first and one in the third for the Lady Ramblers (9-6).

“That’s sort of been our Achilles Heel all year is unearned runs,” Jacksonville coach Barry Hickingbotham said. “We give up three unearned and lose 4-2. I guess it’s sort of a learning curve because we’re so young. We’re in the process of learning how valuable every out is. We’re learning that you can’t relax until that third out is made.”

After retiring the first two batters, Jacksonville freshman pitcher Kimberly House gave up a single to Naquin. She then got Marissa Holland to pop up to second base, but Bailey Jones dropped it. Naquin was on the move on contact and got all the way around the bases on the error and Holland stopped at first base. She moved to second base on a passed ball by freshman backup catcher Lauren Shillcutt. Rose Bud’s Tess Capps then singled to left field to score Holland and give Rose Bud a 2-0 lead.

“To go to that next level and be a really, really good team, those are the kinds of mistakes we’re going to have to eliminate,” Hickingbotham said. “They’re playing hard, they’re trying and they’re giving great effort. We just have to learn to keep that focus and not let those simple mistakes happen, because they cost you.”

House struck out the side in the second inning, sandwiching two singles between the second and third strikeout. Holland got a hit and a stolen base with one out in the third inning for Rose Bud. She moved to third on a ground ball and scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-0.

Naquin fanned the side twice, once in the second inning and again in the fourth, but Jacksonville had opportunities in other frames. The Lady Red Devils got two in scoring position with one out in the bottom of the first when some luck broke Rose Bud’s way. Cleanup hitter Mailani Walker ripped a hard line drive with the runners in scoring position, but ripped it straight to second base for the second out. Shyrel McKinney then struck out looking on a borderline strike in the lower-outside portion of the zone.

Jacksonville got the leadoff hitter on in the fourth inning when Kimley Burrows walked. Shillcutt struck out. Nine-hole hitter Keke Alcorn hit a deep fly ball to right field for the second out and Sacha Richardson grounded out to first base to end the threat.

Jacksonville got two on with nobody out in the fifth inning. Morgan Lloyd reached on an error at first base and House walked. Walker laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move the runners into scoring position, but Naquin struck out the next two batters to get out of the jam.

Rose Bud’s only earned run came when Capps singled, stole second and moved to third on a groundout. Paige Passmore then grounded to first for a sacrifice and an RBI.

Jacksonville rallied in the bottom of the seventh, scoring two runs on one hit and two errors. Burrows led off and reached on an error at second base. Shillcut sacrificed her to second with a groundout. Alcorn then singled to left field to score Burrows. She broke for second when the throw went home to get Burrows. Rose Bud catcher Destiny Naquin didn’t bother trying to apply the tag, instead catching and immediately throwing to second to try to gun down Alcorn, but her throw was high and went though three levels of players. It went over the second baseman, was missed in the air by the shortstop backing up the play, and rolled past the centerfielder all the way to the fence, allowing Alcorn to score standing up and set the final margin. Richardson flew out on the next at bat and Lloyd became the 13th strikeout victim to end the game.

“We’re just not getting that two-out base hit,” Hickingbotham said. “Really good pitchers like this one, we’re having trouble catching up to it. We have to get better and just putting the ball in play. We want to put pressure on people and to do that you have to have people on base.”

Jacksonville, (9-9, 6-2) gets back to conference action today at Little Rock Christian Academy.