HILLSBORO, Mo. — Lana Reed might've saved Three Rivers from getting swept in a series for just the second time all season.
Trailing 2-0 in the top of the seventh, Reed hit a go-ahead home run to lift Three Rivers over Jefferson College 3-2 in game one of a Region XVI doubleheader. The Lady Raiders were held scoreless in game two, falling 9-0.
The the series split puts Three Rivers (34-7, 17-5 Region XVI) in the driver's seat as the likely No. 2 seed in the Region XVI Tournament.
Even game one was a struggle at times for the offense. Jefferson's defense had five 1-2-3 innings, including four straight before Kristyn Carpenter generated some momentum with a leadoff single in the top of the seventh. Gracie King was hit by a pitch to set up Reed's one-out heroics.
"We struggled all day," Three Rivers coach Jeff Null said. "That last inning, we're down 2-0 and (Carpenter) gets it going, Gracie got hit by a pitch, then Allison (Pingel) strikes out there, and that got us to one out. Then, Lana got down to two strikes, and they tried to sneak a fastball by her and she hit it out to dead center on a rope."
Reed now has eight home runs on the season, putting her in a four-way tie with Carpenter, King and Zoe Bisby. Reed has played in 25 of the team's 41 games this season.
Abbey Gann had a solid day in the circle. She pitched all seven innings and gave up five hits, two earned runs, five walks and four strikeouts. The defense came through several times when it needed to, forcing Jefferson to strand nine runners. In the bottom of the seventh, Jefferson (33-10, 14-6) put the tying run in scoring position with one out. A pair of fly balls ended the game as the Raiders stole a win.
"Abbey made some good pitches and got a couple of pop-ups there to end it," Null said. "That was a big win because I mean, we kind of snatched that from defeat there down 2-0 in the seventh."
In game two, Jefferson wasn't going to be denied a win. After the Vikings scored four runs through the first pair of innings, things went from bad to worse for the Lady Raiders. Starter Saje Kurpiela allowed six runs in three innings, and Adrienne Stucker relieved her in the fourth. The Vikings offense kept humming along despite the pitching change. The hosts knocked three home runs on the day, including back-to-back dingers in the fourth.
"I think we just kind of relaxed in that second game and came out and they got on us early. We didn't compete very well in that second game," Null said. "We were kind of disappointed about the way it ended, so we've got work to do."
Three Rivers didn't have any 1-2-3 innings in game two, but it stranded six runners on base and tallied four total hits in the game. Jenny Morey finished with two hits in two at-bats as the only Lady Raider with multiple hits in the game.
After winning starting the season at 28-2, Three Rivers is now 6-5 since it had a 19-game winning streak come to an end on April 9.
"We're not where we need to be," Null said. "We're not getting ourselves ready mentally, you know, before games, I don't think. I don't know the cause of it or whatever, but we've got to make some changes there and get ourselves ready to go. We can't afford to take five or six innings before we decide to hit the ball."
The Lady Raiders will close out a five-series road trip on Thursday at East Central College. Opening pitch of the doubleheader is set for 2 p.m.
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic