By Shelley Ebbrecht
The Fair Grove Lady Eagles took control in the second half of Monday’s game on their home field to outlast the Clever Lady Jays, 11-1.
“It’s a big win for us,” Fair Grove coach Tara Whetzell said. “I tell the team every game that you have to play up to your standards every time. If you play down to someone else’s standard or overplay, it’s not going to work. They’ve really bought in this year and gone along with our philosophy, so I think this is a great win for us, to start our week positively.”
Lorin Weaver led the Fair Grove offense going 2-for-4 with three RBI, two runs and two stolen bases. With two runners on and no outs in the bottom of the third, Weaver hit a single down the third-base line to knock in two runs and give the Eagles their first lead of the game. She scored off an error at first base and Fair Grove ended the inning up, 5-1.
“We had to make adjustments,” Weaver said of the team’s offense in the third inning. “We had been popping it up and not really hitting it too well. Then for us to adjust and get to going around the bases is always a big confidence booster, especially going in to play defense the next inning.”
Clever got off to a rough start when the Lady Jays lost their starting pitcher to an ankle injury in the top of the first inning. Emily Mendenhall went down when she was halted rounding third base and had to be helped off the field. The senior ace did not return to the game and Clever coach Cheryl Grant said the loss was a huge blow to the team.
“The girls were all playing different positions and it throws us out of sync,” Grant said. “It affected our offense, too, because the lineup got messed up, obviously. We couldn’t plan for it ahead of time, so it was an adjustment on our end. And it looks like we’ve got a lot of work to do before districts.”
With Mendenhall out, the Lady Jays struggled to find their groove on the mound. Emily Ledbetter gave up six runs in the first four innings before Abi Menzies came in for relief. In the bottom of the fifth, six straight batters reached base. The Lady Jays recorded their first out in the frame on a fly ball, but a runner scored on the sacrifice fly to give Fair Grove the 10-run lead to clinch the victory.
Fair Grove, now 13-4, still has a busy week ahead with three more games to squeeze in before district play begins Monday. The Eagles will host Mountain Grove Tuesday before honoring their seniors at Thursday’s contest against Ash Grove.
“Tonight’s game gives us confidence going into the rest of the week,” Weaver said. “We have three more games this week, so we really needed a win to carry us through because it’s going to be a long week.”
Clever falls to 13-5 and hopes to recover in their two remaining games this week. Tomorrow they will host Mount Vernon during Clever’s Make-A-Wish night. The team will raise money to help make a local kid’s wish come true.
Clever 1, Fair Grove 11
Fair Grove 0-0-5-1-5—11