SPORTS >>Lady Red Devils rip through Mountain Home twice
By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor
The Lady Red Devils softball team got an easy sweep of Mountain Home on the road Thursday night, beating the Lady Bombers 13-0 and 8-2 to improve to 8-2 overall and 3-1 in conference play.
Gabrielle Hart is back from an injury earlier this season and lit up the Mountain Home pitching staff. Hart moved from the leadoff spot that she held last year and is now batting cleanup. Thursday night she cleaned up real nice, going 4 of 5 with a grand slam and seven RBIs, and that was just in game one. She was 3 of 4 with three RBIs when she sparked a seven-run rally in the top of the seventh that buried the Lady Bombers and set the final margin.
Already leading 6-0, Rochelle Holder, Jessica Bock and Somer Grimes got consecutive base hits to load the bases. Hart stepped in and sent one over the wall in left field to clear the bases, but it didn’t stop the rally.
Paula Burr made it five straight base hits, and moved to second on a sacrifice fly by Bailey Herlacher. Raven Pickett then singled to drive in the fifth run of the inning. Ellen Burr singled in the sixth run.
Alana Whatley reached on a fielder’s choice before Holder singled in a run in her second at bat of the inning.
Jacksonville coach Phil Bradley has been very pleased with the way his team swung the bat Thursday, especially his healed cleanup hitter.
“She is ripping the cover off of it right now,” Bradley said. “We hit it up and down the line. Everybody got at least one hit. Our two, three and four hitters were murderers’ row for us in this one though.” The Lady Red Devils finished the game with 15 base hits, with the two, three and four hitters (Bock, Grimes and Hart), combining to get nine hits in 12 at bats.
Game two was more interesting. Bock, who suffers from asthma, began struggling with her affliction amidst the budding mountain foliage.
Jacksonville led 3-0 in the top of the fourth when Bock had to leave the game with a 1-1 count on the first batter.
The Lady Bombers scored two runs in the inning, but Jacksonville came back with five runs in the fifth to thwart any Mountain Home comeback attempt.
Bock re entered the game in the fifth and completed the victory. She struck out 11 in game two.
The Lady Red Devils started their first-inning rally with a one-out walk by Bock.
Two batters later with two outs, Hart and Paula Burr walked intentionally to set up a force at any base, but Bailey Herlacher made MHHS pay for the strategy with a two-RBI single to centerfield. Hart then scored on a wild pitch for the third run of the inning.
The Lady Bombers walked Hart her next time up as well, but decided to pitch to her in the fifth inning.
It was a mistake.
She led off with a triple to start a five-run rally that put a stamp on the game.
“When they started walking her I just told her don’t worry about it,” Bradley said. “Just stand in there, and if they throw you something to hit, hit it. Don’t let the mind games play with you.”
Herlacher walked with one out two batters later, and Picket sacrificed Hart home, making it 4-2 with two outs.
Ellen Burr then singled and Whatley walked to load the bases. Holder then singled to score Herlacher and Burr. Bock followed that with a single that scored Whatley and Holder and set the final margin.
The sweep lifts Jacksonville to 8-2 overall and 3-1 in the 6A-East. The Lady Red Devils are off next week for spring break.
Jacksonville will pick up play again on Saturday, March 30 in the Harrison tournament. Conference play begins again the following Tuesday at home against the Jonesboro Lady Hurricane.