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The Grant County softball team waited three weeks to restart their game against Walton-Verona.
The wait was worth it as the Lady Braves’ bats came alive, leading to a 10-7 victory on May 4.
“I told my players that it would be a slugfest,” coach Ott Reed said. “Whoever was hitting the hardest would win the game.”
The game originally started on April 13, as the Lady Bearcats took a 2-0 lead after the top of the first inning. Rain delayed the game for three weeks before the two teams matched up again.
The Lady Braves restarted the game in the bottom of the first inning and tied the game when Alesa Collinsworth drove a ball over the centerfield fence for a two-run homerun. Katelyn Roy followed with a homerun on the first pitch she saw to put the Lady Braves ahead 3-2.
Walton-Verona scored two runs in the top of the third inning to retake the lead, but Grant County responded in the bottom of the inning. The Lady Braves tied the game on Roy’s second homerun of the game to make it 4-4.
“I knew we were behind and I felt like I had to come out and hit the ball well,” Roy said. “It feels good. I relaxed and hit the ball. That’s all I wanted to do.”
The Lady Bearcats put themselves back on top in the top of the fourth with a run-scoring double to make it 5-4. Every time the Lady Braves scored, Walton-Verona had an answer, but Grant County kept fighting and took the lead with an explosive fourth inning.
Morgan McClure started the bottom of the fourth inning, fouling off several balls before striking out. Although she didn’t get a hit, she made Walton-Verona’s pitcher throw a lot of pitches and the Lady Braves that followed took advantage.
Kara O’Connor, Erica Stith and Sara Edwards came up with two singles and a walk to load the bases. O’Connor scored on a bloop single to shallow centerfield by Taryn Biddle and Collinsworth drove in three runs with a base-clearing double to make it 8-5.
“Their pitcher threw 34 pitches and anytime you can get a player to throw more than 25 pitches in an inning, you’re tiring that arm,” Reed said.
The Lady Braves added two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, taking advantage of Lady Bearcats’ errors. Jessica Smith drove in the runs with a double to put Grant County ahead 10-5.
Walton-Verona was able to score two more runs in the top of the sixth inning, but Roy sat down all three batters in the seventh for a 10-7 win.
“The last two games we played at Lexington Catholic, we started hitting the ball,” Reed said. “Roy and Collinsworth complement each other, but Biddle and Smith set the table. But you can’t forget about Edwards. It was a big game for her. I’ve been waiting all year for that to happen. It’s great and a shot in the arm.”
“This game meant a lot for us,” Collinsworth said. “But either way, we’re going to play Walton in the first round of the districts. It means a lot to split the season series. We’re kind of the underdogs this year. It’s nice to show them that we’re not going to roll over. I feel like we have a lot of momentum.”
The Lady Braves will face Walton-Verona in the first round of the district tournament on May 18 and hope to build off this game before they meet again.
“We know that’s the team we’re going to have to play in two weeks in the district,” Reed said. “I told them that round two goes to the Lady Braves. This team is playing together. The hits can come from anywhere in the order. As long as we can sustain that for the two weeks, this team will end up as one of the better teams we’ve had.”
Next up for the Grant County Lady Braves:
• May 7 at Dixie Heights
• May 12 at Trimble County