By Matt Turer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Pleasant Hope, Mo. — The Weaubleau Tigers are winning in all kinds of ways.
Megan Flagg’s seventh strikeout in three innings of relief sat down Salette Trujillo and secured the 26th win in the last 30 games for Weaubleau (15-2).
Jenna Daggett drove in three runs, Jerika Vanderford reached base four times and Flagg snagged the win in relief, helping the Tigers beat the Pleasant Hope Pirates 8-4 on Tuesday.
“I’ve said it from Day 1, these girls have always had fight,” Tigers head coach Katie Lorenz said. “They don’t back down and they don’t like being called the underdogs, because they like to prove they’re better than people. I’ve never doubted their ability to come back.”
Weaubleau’s 26-4 run is one of the best in southwest Missouri over the last two seasons, with the only two losses this fall coming against Hermitage, who the Tigers have beat twice since, and Stoutland, on Day 2 of a tournament last weekend.
“The wins are just helping us grow,” senior Jerika Vanderford said. “It’s not getting to our heads, but it’s helping us get the confidence we needed. After losing to Hermitage [in 2016 districts] it kind of put us down, so we really wanted to come out there and prove something.”
Vanderford reached base four times, walking twice, singling and scoring in the fifth and driving home the go-ahead run on a two-run double in the sixth, scoring McKenna Arthurs and Madison Barger, for her team-high 26th and 27th RBIs of the season.
“I just went up and knew we needed some runs,” Vanderford, hitting .439, said. “I saw the gap and hit it there, and we scored, and we just kept rolling.”
Flagg (9-0) tossed three scoreless relief innings coming on for Daggett, who allowed two earned runs on six hits over four innings.
“My goal is just to keep pitching strikes and try to do my best to help my team. I was pretty happy with how I pitched, and I was glad my other pitcher came in and helped us out,” Daggett said.
Abby Henson opened the scoring in the third for the Pirates, doubling to leadoff the inning then scoring off an error on a Katelyn Stewart fly ball. Macie Warner previously reached on a single and scored with Stewart on a Jaydin Lee double, making it 3-0 Pirates.
Trujillo was hit in the helmet with a Daggett pitch to leadoff the fourth, later scoring on a two-out single by Stewart.
Pleasant Hope loaded the bases with zero outs in the second inning but came away scoreless in what was Daggett’s biggest moment of the game.
“We jumped on them but our bats just went silent,” Pirates coach Kevin McVey said. “We got runners on and couldn’t do nothing with it, and they got runners on and got the hits they needed. That’s about it.”
Pirates starter Abby Henson (0-1) allowed six earned runs on 10 hits over seven innings, striking out six.
It was Henson’s first start of the season and first time pitching a full seven innings in over a year, filling in for Jaydin Lee, who needed rest.
“It’s just a lack of experience,” McVey said of the loss. “We have no big-game experience yet. We were up and experienced teams will keep rolling and not let the other team back in, and we’re not doing that.”
Weaubleau began its comeback in the fifth when Arthurs was hit by a pitch and Vanderford singled with one out, then were both driven in by a Daggett triple. Daggett later scored on a throwing error on a pickoff play to third.
After the Tigers took the lead, 5-4, on Vanderford’s double in the sixth, Daggett drove her home for her third RBI with a double. Next, Danni Stewart walked, Rebecca Baker flew out to center, and Kylie Vail singled, scoring Daggett. Stewart scored on a throwing error on the same, capping the scoring at 8-4.
All nine Tigers reached base at least once.
“I try to focus one game at a time, but I think if we can level heads and don’t get cocky and go out there and play our game, we can beat anybody on any given day,” Lorenz said.
Weaubleau |0|0|0|0|3|5|0| – |8|10|2|
Pleasant Hope |0|0|3|1|0|0|0| – |4|7|2|
Pirates – Bottom 3rd
Katelyn Stewart singled, Abby Henson scored — PH 1, WBL 0
Jaydin Lee doubled, Macie Warner and Stewart scored — PH 3, WBL 0
Pirates – Bottom 4th
Stewart singled, Salette Trujillo scored — PH 4, WBL 0
Tigers – Top 5th
Jenna Daggett tripled, McKenna Arthurs and Jerika Vanderford scored — PH 4, WBL 2
Daggett scored (E2) — PH 4, WBL 3
Tigers – Top 6th
Vanderford doubled, Madison Barger and Arthurs scored — WBL 5, PH 4
Daggett doubled, Vanderford scored — WBL 6, PH 4
Kylie Vail singled, Daggett scored — WBL 7, PH 4
Danni Stewart scored (E9) — WBL 8, PH 4