May 22, 2012 — Despite a solid defensive effort, the Lady Vikings could not overcome an even stronger pitching game from the Russell Lady Devils.
Last Thursday's home finale unfortunately ended in defeat for Rowan County, as they lost 4-0 in a game with little offense.
Rowan County Head Coach Larry Slone said his team's defeat means little in the big picture, with postseason set to start tonight.
"Just before the second half of the season onward, we've been playing some pretty good ball," Slone said. "Sometimes we come out and hit the ball well, and that has helped to win a lot of games. On the defensive side, we've been solid and kept our errors down. We should be fine come next week."
Coming into Thursday's game with a record of 22-13, the Lady Vikings had done a lot of winning as of late.
The Lady Devils had also done a lot of winning by way of powerful pitching.
Strong play in the field from third baseman Sabrina Stewart and shortstop Autumn Meade, along with another strong outing from pitcher Morgan Mitchell gave the Lady Vikings room to wiggle.
Unable to compile runs, Rowan's fielding crew did work, holding Russell scoreless until its third at bat.
A nice out on a foul tip by Lady Viking catcher Lindsey Wilson began the third inning on a high note for the home team.
The Lady Devils followed with a string of singles before a go ahead RBI by Russell's Molly Balldridge gave Russell a 3-0 lead to end the top of the fourth.
Mackenzie Summers picked up one of Rowan’s three hits on a single in the second inning, as the home team made contact, but the visitor's simply made the plays.
Wilson attempted to garner some momentum for her team in the fifth when she picked up a single before stealing two bases to put herself in scoring position. Wilson was then left stranded with the bats proving unkind for Rowan in the final regular season game of the year.
Two straight spectacular catches by Stewart and Meade in the top of the sixth helped maintain the 3-0 deficit, allowing the girls in green to find new life in the sixth when Becca Duff took first on a dropped pop fly to right field.
Duff then took second on a steal before senior Tessa Jennings took first on a walk, but once again runs did not materialize for the Lady Vikings, as they ended the frame scoreless.
The final defensive outing ended quickly for Rowan County when Duff gloved a pop fly to right field, followed with a cycle ending strikeout by Mitchell.
Duff took base once more by way of a fielding error before the Lady Viking push was ended with a game-ending strikeout.
Slone said his team simply couldn't pick up a big hit, and this resulted in his team's 14th loss on the year.
"We just couldn't make a big play down the stretch there and it's tough to beat these good teams when you can't do that," Slone said. "But this game is in the past now. We've got Menifee next Tuesday and we are going to be ready. We are young, but we have built some confidence down the stretch. Menifee is a much-improved team and we will have to be ready."
Slone and his girls will travel to Bath County to take on Menifee County in the first round of the 61st District tournament tonight at 7:30 pm.
Be sure to pick up Friday's edition of The Morehead News to see if the Lady Vikings ship to postseason glory can maintain its course.
Grant Stevens can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 784-4116.