PATTONVILLE — Presley Applegate of Chapel Hill smacked a leadoff home run on a full count off star freshman pitcher McKenna Guest to put the visitors up 1-0. In the bottom of the opening frame, however, Prairiland senior shortstop and leadoff hitter Elizabeth Preston ignited a strong response for the home team.
Preston hit an infield single as she put on the afterburners to beat out a throw at first base to start a 5-run rally. In total, the spark she provided in the first inning was the beginning of an 11-0 scoring run, as Guest settled down and pitched strong on the mound the rest of the way to secure an 11-1 win for Prairiland (16-2-1, 1-0) in 5 innings of work.
“I definitely think it’s important to get going early in the game and get your energy high because as the game goes on, your energy can always fall,” Preston said. “I feel like as a leadoff, it’s my responsibility to really kick us off and get on base. I’m glad I had the girls to back me up and keep us going. I think lately we’ve done a really good job of staying really hyped up in the dugout, which also really helped us.”
Prairiland held a 6-1 lead entering the bottom of the fourth, but five more runs in the inning increased the lead to 11-1.
Freshman catcher Kyndal Yaross hit a rocket line drive to the wall for an RBI double that scored two runs. A sacrifice fly from senior Emily Mouser pushed the lead to 9-1. After that, sophomore Kiersten Bridges smacked a triple deep into right field after Chapel Hill players were told to scoot in. Bridges legged it out to third base and plated two runs in the process as the lead grew to 11-1. Junior pitcher Grace Unruh pitched a perfect fifth inning to clinch the home win for the Lady Patriots.
“This year we’ve been able to have some energy and carry that from inning to inning,” Lady Patriots head softball coach Brian Morris said. “We are really trying to work on our short game in being explosive in the right scenarios. So far, the kids we have put in have given us a great combination of power as well as small-game stuff. We’ve tried to spread that out through our lineup to make something happen at any moment.”
Six Lady Patriot players finished with multiple hits against Chapel Hill. Preston, Audrey Gray, Guest, Mouser, Bridges and Lily Gilbert each recorded 2 hits. Yaross drove in two runs with her RBI double, while Mouser also plated two runs. Bridges led the team with a game-high 3 RBI. Guest paired her two singles with 4 strong innings on the mound, where she recorded 7 strikeouts and allowed just one hit in the leadoff homer from Applegate.
The Lady Patriots will take the field again at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Anna, the defending champion of Region II in Class 4A.