SPORTS>> Lady Devils run-rule Sylvan Hills in shutout
By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor
They’re two games into the season, but they still don’t know how good their defense is going to be, the Jacksonville Lady Red Devils that is. Only two members of the team have fielded a ball in play so far this season, due to the dominant pitching of sophomore hurler Jessica Bock.
Bock followed her seven-inning perfect game against Searcy in the season opener, with a six-inning perfect game in a 10-0 win over Sylvan Hills last Friday to improve to 2-0 overall and in conference play.
Bock faced 18 batters and struck out 16 of them while the Red Devil offense made better use of their base hits in game two of the season.
The Jacksonville ladies picked up 14 hits in both of their wins so far this season, but brought six more runs across the plate against the Lady Bears than they did against Searcy.
“We got more timely hitting this time,” Jacksonville coach Phil Bradley said. “We got a lot of hits in the first one, we just left a ton of runners stranded. We didn’t do that this time, which was good to see.”
The Lady Devils scored three runs in the top of the first inning to take the lead for good.
Five consecutive base hits did the damage for Jacksonville. Bock led off with a triple to left field. Freshman Taylor Norsworthy brought her in with a single. Whitney Belew then singled and catcher Whitney Conrade brought in a run with a fourth base rap.
Somer Grimes made it five hits in a row to drive in the third and final run of the inning.
The top five in the Lady Red Devil lineup accounted for 11 of the team’s 14 base hits.
“That’s where we did the damage,” Bradley said.
“We’re struggling to find our spots in the bottom half of the lineup, but we are making contact, so there are some signs that we could be pretty tough from top to bottom.”
Jacksonville added two runs in the second, one in the third and fourth, two in the fifth and invoked the run rule with a single tally in the sixth inning.
Bock hit another triple in the fifth inning to drive in two runs and finish 2 for 5 on the day.
Norsworthy led Jacksonville with three hits in four at bats. Belew, Conrade and Grimes each went 2 for 4 in the victory.
Both teams had games scheduled for Monday and Tuesday of this week, but those games were rained out.
Sylvan Hills is scheduled to travel to Forrest City on Thursday while Jacksonville will host archrival Cabot Thursday at Dupree Park, if the weather permits.
“There’s already standing water in the outfield,” Bradley said Tuesday.
“If it rains anymore it’ll soon be Dupree Lake instead of Dupree Park.”