Cougars capitalize on 15 hits and three Tiger errors in 11-0 win on Saturday.
SPRINGFIELD — When Courtney Lopez smacked a pitch toward center field in the bottom of the second inning on Saturday against West Liberty-Salem, she thought she had hit a routine fly out. However, the way West Liberty-Salem fielded on many plays on Saturday was anything but routine.
Lopez’s hit dropped just a few feet from the fence and over the outstretched hand of West Liberty center fielder Kylie Gilroy for a triple. Brittany Harting scored from first on the play to give the Cougars a 3-0 lead.
“I thought it was just a popup to the center fielder,” Lopez said after the game. “Everyone was yelling at me to keep running, so I just did. It didn’t feel like a big hit, but I guess that happens.”
Lopez’s hit was just one of many highlights in the 11-0, five-inning win for Kenton Ridge at Ed Foulk Field. The Cougars had 15 hits in the game, and West Liberty-Salem finished with three errors.
Kenton Ridge (12-1, 6-1 CBC Kenton Trail) scored three runs in the second inning and four runs in both the third and fourth innings to earn the run-rule victory. It was the tenth win in a row for Kenton Ridge.
“We started out a little slow yesterday (in an 11-1 win over Tecumseh),” Kenton Ridge head coach Sarah Schalnat said. “We had the day off school. I was hoping this morning when we came out here we were ready to go, and the kids came out ready. Our kids are just on it right now. We’re hitting really well, and we’re hitting one through nine, which is a good thing.”
West Liberty-Salem (6-6, 4-2 OHC) had trouble fielding the ball. Many infield hits were bobbled or dropped when the Tigers tried to make a play, and some rolled by fielders’ legs.
“We were able to capitalize on their mistakes,” Schalnat said. “I thought our base running was very good. When they had trouble a couple of times, we were able to get some more bases.”
Lopez, a junior pitcher, went 3-for-4 in the game and batted in one run. She allowed three hits in the circle and had one strikeout in four innings.
“The key was just hitting my spots, not letting (pitches) get too high and coming back on the ones that I got down on,” Lopez said.
Kenton Ridge ran away with the game in the third inning. Mykee Holtz led off the inning with a single. Haley Dillon tripled two batters later to score Holtz, and Dillon scored on the play after the throw to third base went awry. Brittany Harting hit a single later in the inning that scored two runs to give Kenton Ridge a 7-0 lead.
Bailie Frazier came off the bench and hit a double to center field in the fourth inning to score two runs. Frazier scored on a single from Learic Kinser later in the inning for the Cougars’ final run.
Mariyah Burkhardt pitched in the fifth for Kenton Ridge and struck out the final batter of the game.
Brittany Harting went 2-for-4 and had three RBI. Learic Kinser went 2-for-3 with a walk and had one RBI. Haley Dillon and Mykee Holtz both went 2-for-3 with one RBI. Both Dillon and Holtz scored two runs as well.
Kenton Ridge’s last loss came on April 8 when Tippecanoe scored six runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to beat the Cougars’ 10-9 in a conference game. Kenton Ridge has outscored its opponents 91-13 in its last ten games, including a 3-2 win over Tippecanoe last Wednesday at Ed Foulk Field. The Cougars scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to earn the win.
“I think we’re doing a lot better now than we were (in the beginning of the season),” Lopez said. “We’re a lot more relaxed and actually hitting the ball where we need to hit it now.”
Schalnat said Kenton Ridge has improved in the last few weeks and credits additional practice time for helping.
“It seems like we’re playing better defense,” Schalnat said. “It seems like we’ve got a little bit of a core going on that is really working. I haven’t changed much in the lineup since we lost to Tipp, so it’s pretty much been the same starters going in the same positions.”
Kenton Ridge plays a two-game series with Bellefontaine next week on Monday and Tuesday, travels to Urbana on Thursday, and plays a doubleheader at Bellbrook next Saturday.
Kenton Ridge has a big series looming with county and league rival Shawnee on April 28 and 29. The Braves are currently in first place in the Kenton Trail Division with a 6-0 league record. Kenton Ridge is in second place with a 6-1 record.
“We don’t take any team lightly,” Brittany Harting said after the game. “We’ve got to focus and keep going and finish each game before we can worry about the next one.”
TBSN Audio Extra: Courtney Lopez Postgame Interview