By Calen VanNess
Springfield, Mo. — On Monday evening, the Sparta Lady Trojans and the Billings Lady Wildcats were both looking to turn around their softball seasons after coming off losses to Marionville and Mount Vernon, respectively. After an early back-and-forth contest, it was the Lady Trojans (2-5) that prevailed at home with a 13-8 win that included timely hitting, aggressive baserunning, and clutch pitching.
After getting hit by a pitch, Lady Trojans senior second baseman Laken Dobbs stole second and third base in the fourth inning and scored the go-ahead run on an error at first base. Senior pitcher Genesis McTeer followed with a single that plated another run and extended the lead to 8-6.
“We hit the ball really well,” Sparta first-year head coach Leslie Kimball said. “We had a couple of back-to-back triples. The girls played well. They were aggressive on the bases and took advantage of errors. We ran the bases well and fielded well.”
Billings (1-2) jumped out to an early 4-0 lead after three walks and two doubles in the first inning. Sparta promptly answered with four runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning as senior Alyssa Moore hit a two-out triple that scored two runs.
Sparta’s McTeer walked seven of the first 16 batters in the first two innings but came back poised in the third inning and shut out the Lady Wildcats for the next four innings.
“She relaxed and got the ball over the plate,” said Kimball of her pitcher. “We have had to start over with our pitching, and our goal is to get the ball over the plate and trust our defense. She is mentally tough and did a great job on the mound for us tonight.”
The Lady Wildcats stranded the bases loaded in the second inning and again in the fourth inning. They threatened once again in the seventh inning after four straight walks, but a groundout followed by a strikeout ended any chance of a comeback.
The Lady Trojans came into the season with the goal of playing solid defense, and it was their defense that was key to tonight’s victory.
“We have focused on defensive situations,” said Kimball. “And it showed tonight.”
Lady Trojans sophomore shortstop Kassidy Watts finished the game going 3-3 with two singles, two walks, and an inside-the-park home run. Dobbs was 2-4 with one RBI and four stolen bases. McTeer went 2-3 with a triple and one RBI.
Billings’ sophomore catcher Elizabeth Gearing finished the game going 1-4 with two RBI. Senior Kacie Baxter struck out the side in both the third and fourth innings after coming into the game in relief of senior Kerri Culver in the third inning.
The Lady Trojans have little time to celebrate as they will travel to Chadwick to take on the Lady Cardinals on Tuesday night. The Lady Wildcats will look to turn things around on Thursday night as they play host to Crane.
Billings 420 000 2–8
Sparta 420 241 x–13