Lady Raiders rolling toward postseason

Lady Raiders rolling toward postseason

The Lady Raiders are on their longest winning streak of the season heading into their final week.

With weekend sweeps over State Fair and Mineral Area, Three Rivers College has won eight straight with two doubleheaders remaining before the Region XVI Tournament.

Three Rivers swept State Fair on Sunday, 8-0 and 6-5, and then Mineral Area on Monday, 11-7 and 5-4. The Lady Raiders close the regular season by hosting Jefferson today and Crowder tomorrow.

Celebrating sophomore day Monday, the Lady Raiders (28-21, 12-8 Region XVI) came out firing against Mineral Area, but were sluggish in the nightcap and had to rally. The sweep of Mineral Area locked up second place in the conference. Three Rivers can win the conference title with a sweep against Jefferson today.

"We had sophomore day (between games). They were ready to hit the field and I had some of them over there still talking to family. We just weren't ready to play. We got down, was a little flat, our intensity wasn't where it needed to be," Three Rivers coach Jeff Null said. "They found a way to come up with a couple big plays and hits when we needed them."

Three Rivers put up six runs in the first inning of the opener and had 11 through three, but errors and other mistakes nearly allowed the Lady Cardinals (17-32) to rally.

Three Rivers' first nine batters reached base, and the first six scored after five singles and a walk.

Lexi Morris scored three times in the game and the top four in the lineup all scored at least twice. Courtney Slayton had a RBI triple in the second inning and MaKayla Lamphier added a two-run double in the third for the Lady Raiders' only extra-base hits in the game. Lamphier finished with four of Three Rivers' nine RBIs.

The Lady Raider defense committed a pair of errors with two outs in the second. Mineral Area was still scoreless when the first occurred.

Then came a two-run double and the second error and suddenly the Lady Cardinals had put up five runs. A leadoff error in the fourth inning led to two more runs.

Three Rivers finished with six errors, the most in any win this season and second most in any game.

When the Lady Raiders played clean defense, pitcher Wiley Lowry (14-9) never faced more than five batters in a frame.

She ultimately allowed nine hits, no earned runs and two walks with seven strikeouts in the complete-game win.

"Our pitcher threw well enough to throw a shutout," Null said. "Luckily our offense backed us up that game."

Ally Hendricks saw three pitches and had three line drives in the nightcap. Her strong game was made stronger by a pair of whoopsies.

With runners on second and third and one out in the fourth, Hendricks singled to the outfield. She tried for second and got halfway before stopping and turning around.

Caught in a rundown, Hendricks stumbled in retreat and tumbled into the dirt for an easy tag.

In the extra time she took up, though, Lamphier rounded third and scored without a throw home.

Hendricks got up, shrugged, and smiled her way back to the dugout, the Lady Raiders now trailing by a run.

Kira Cunningham singled and scored in the fifth on Morris' hit to tie the game, and then Hendricks opened the bottom of the sixth with another first-pitch single.

Hendricks then tried to steal second, but she wasn't supposed to steal second.

The throw from home drifted a few feet toward first and Hendricks sidestepped the swiping tag attempt, avoiding a butt-chewing in the process for misreading a sign.

"Ally is Ally. She'll make a mistake and she'll pick herself back up the next inning, it's just a matter of time," Null said. "She misread (the sign) and luckily she was safe for her sake."

Logan Hayworth laid down a sacrifice bunt to put Hendricks on third, and Shaina Merrick hit a sacrifice fly to center to put the Lady Raiders ahead.

While this was going on, Lowry was warming up in the bullpen, and she then took right field in the top of the seventh.

The save attempt wasn't needed. After facing 22 batters through four innings, Carleigh Burnett faced the minimum over the final three. Burnett (12-9) allowed seven hits and two walks with three strikeouts in the win.

On Sunday, Hendricks hit her team-leading 10th home run of the season against State Fair (10-36, 2-22 Region XVI).

She is now tied for fifth in the Three Rivers single-season home run record book. Despite not getting a home run last year, the sophomore is also tied for seventh in the career home run record list.

Her solo shot in the fifth inning of the nightcap put the Lady Raiders up 3-1, and Logan Hayworth followed for back-to-back homers.

Randi Scruggs went 4 for 5 with three runs, as well.

Burnett allowed four hits and three walks with eight strikeouts through six innings. The Lady Raiders led 5-2 going into the seventh, but relief pitcher Maci Coleman gave up two doubles and a single that cut the lead to one.

Lowry took the circle with the tying run on second and gave up a game-tying single before getting out of the inning.

She ultimately got the win because in the bottom of the seventh, Scruggs and Ledure hit one-out singles, and Slayton came through with a two out, walk-off single up the middle to score Scruggs from third.

Lowry pitched a dominant opener and allowed two hits and no walks in the five-inning shutout.

"Our pitchers threw well today. Defense didn't help them at times, but they kept battling through it," Null said.

Three Rivers got a run from eight different spots in the lineup.

Kabrien Rogers highlighted the game with a three-run shot for her first home run of the season.

Lamphier later ended the game when she led off the fifth with her fourth home run, which put Three Rivers ahead by eight and brought the run-rule into effect.