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SOFTBALL: Rivalry gets ailing Lady Cats going against Shelby

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Aldridge shuts down Rockets

By John Herndon

There's nothing like a good old-fashioned rivalry to get a softball team out of a little bit of a funk.

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Granted, Anderson County did not blow 30th District foe Shelby County off the field last Thursday, getting just five hits in a 3-0 home field win.

And to be sure, the Shelby County of 2013, while vastly improved since the first time the teams had met nearly a month before, is not the same Shelby that was locked in a perennial battle with Anderson for Eighth Region supremacy just a few years back.

But it was still Shelby County and it was still a win for the Lady Bearcats.

The Lady Bearcats' first two batters reached base and scored and it was all freshman pitcher Mia Aldridge would need to score their sixth straight win over the Lady Rockets. Shelby has not beaten Anderson since the school was divided to form Collins in 2010.

“We had good defense and pitching,” said Anderson coach Brian Glass. “We got a win that we needed.”

Anderson had not played well the night before, squeaking by Spencer County, another district foe, prompting Glass to remind his team that the mental approach to the game was the key.

“Tonight I thought we were focused coming out. We talked about our enthusiasm before the game,” Glass noted.

Anderson, ranked 20th in last week's state poll, was playing without junior center-fielder Molly Burkhead, who has an on base percentage over .500, regular first baseman Madison Brummett and starting third baseman Alissa Vest. Burkhead has been plagued by nagging back issues for most of the season and, with Anderson already assured of the top seed in the 30th District Tournament, Glass elected to rest Burkhead in preparation for the post-season.

Brummett has also been battling some nagging injuries, while Vest was sick and unable to play. They  have been two of Anderson's better run-producers

The Lady Bearcats greatly missed Burkhead's passion at the top of the batting order. “Oh yes,” Glass said. “She is our sparkplug. She is our leadoff. She brings enthusiasm from the very first at bat. We are missing that.”

It did not seem that way with Missa Walker, moved to the top of the makeshift lineup, opened the home half of the first inning with a single. With Corrin Robinson, who normally hits at the bottom of the order, at the plate, Walker stole second, then went to third on a wild pitch.

After Robinson drew a walk, Bailey Curry drove Walker home with a sacrifice fly.

Robinson stole second and eventually came home on Kaci Currens' single.

Nothing fancy, just fundamental offense had reached Shelby pitcher Savannah Smeaton for two runs.

Fortunately for Anderson, Aldridge was in control. While not dominant in scattering four hits, Aldridge was never in trouble against a very young Shelby team. The Rockets never had a runner past second base and all three times it occurred, there were two outs.

Aldridge got the third out with strikeouts in the second and fifth innings, then got the final out of the game when Shelby's Keaton Jessie popped out to Autumn Beasley at third, stranding Jessie Vermillion, who had doubled. It was Shelby's only extra-base hit of the night.

Anderson got an insurance in the fifth when Curry singled, then courtesy runner Lexan Overby stole second, went to third on a passed ball and scored on Courtney-Gail Hawkins' sacrifice fly.

While Anderson managed just five hits, Smeaton issued five walks and the Rockets committed two errors. Anderson had at least two base-runners in every inning but the sixth, but left eight on. Five were in scoring position.

“We are not hitting as well right now,” Glass noted. “We are doing the same drills but I think we might not be as focused (hitting) here at the end of the year.”

And with the post-season approaching, Anderson is considered by most the second choice – behind Oldham County – in the Eighth Region race. The offense can't sputter then.

“We have got to continue to get better,” Glass said. “The last few days we haven't gotten any better. I want us to get better.

“We'll be all right.”

 

Lady Bearcats roll past Lincoln, squeak past Spencer

Anderson routed Lincoln County, 12-2, in five innings last Tuesday. Aldridge gave up just two hits but walked five in getting the victory.

Wednesday, Anderson traveled to Taylorsville, but apparently left the bats home as the Lady Bearcats defeated Spencer County, 1-0. Anderson had beaten Spencer 11-0 a week earlier.

Aldridge recorded the shutout, but the Anderson offense got nothing going. “Our Offense wasn't good,” Glass said. “We were undisciplined swinging and at a lot of high pitches. We had no enthusiasm and were lacking effort.”

 

 

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