Branson, Mo. (For OzarksSportsZone.com) -- The Rogersville Lady Wildcats defeated the Branson Lady Pirates on Thursday night, 6-5 in nine innings. It appeared that Branson’s Ashley Forrest and Rogersville’s Hayley Bledsoe, both sophomores, were headed for a pitcher’s duel when neither team had scored after two innings. Although the score was 6-5, there was only one earned run scored for both teams combined.
Rogersville got on the board first when Kenzie Conley would lead off the third with a base hit. Three Branson errors, with a walk mixed in, would allow the Lady Wildcats to score two unearned runs.
Branson’s defense would again let them down in the fifth inning when they gave Rogersville three more unearned runs, giving the Lady Wildcats a commanding 5 -0 lead.
Bledsoe was on a roll after the first inning, retiring 10 straight batters and 17 of 19 until the seventh inning. She would allow just one run to the Pirates in the fifth inning and would hold a four run lead going into the bottom of the seventh.
The Lady Pirates would make their comeback in the bottom of the seventh when leadoff hitter Hadley Blake would hit a sharp ground ball to the shortstop Ashley Hicks. Hicks would make an error on the play, giving the momentum to Branson. Three errors in a row would see Branson load the bases with two outs. Senior Molly O’Dell would rope a single to the outfield in which the tying run would score but the winning run was thrown out at the plate. The score was now 5-5 going into extra innings.
“Last year, toward the end of the season, we lost a lot of games just like tonight’s game. In the seventh-inning we started with three straight errors and we had not made any errors up until that point. I told the girls it’s not the end of the world, the score is still 5-5,” said Rogersville head coach Denny McHenry.
“I just pitched to contact and let my teammates make the play. When Branson tied the game on us, Coach McHenry told us to stay calm and for me to keep pounding the zone,” said Bledsoe.
Branson never really threatened in the extra frames. In the top of the ninth, Rogersville catcher, sophomore Courtney Ince, would get a one-out base hit. Rogersville would load the bases but manage only to get one run on senior Hannah Lowe’s single, giving Rogersville the one run lead.
Branson would try to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth. Senior first-baseman Avery Aulgur led off the inning with a base hit. Freshman Tori O’Dell would sacrifice bunt Aulgur to second, putting the tying run in scoring position. Bledsoe would force the next two Branson hitters to pop up to end the game.
“We made seven errors tonight and that is what cost us the game,” said Branson head coach Mary Arnold. “It is just one of those things early in the season. We showed some jitters and they did, too, once we started to put the ball in play. This is the opening of the season and there is a long way to go.”
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