The James Buchanan Lady Rocket softball team grabbed an early lead and got a big defensive play to beat Kennard-Dale 5-3 Friday in a District 3 Class AAAA quarterfinal playoff game.
JB (15-5) will now face West Perry in the semifinals Tuesday with a site and time to be determined.
The Lady Rockets jumped ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the first inning when Maddie Bailey led off with a single and scored on Jenna Mongold’s double. Kate Ebersole then plated Mongold with a sacrifice fly to right field.
K-D tied the game with 2 runs in the top of the second and then took the lead (3-2) in the top of the third and had a chance to do more damage, but JB thwarted that rally.
Crystal Mullins reached on an error to open the third inning for K-D and Brooke Ashenfetters walked. Rosella Stika then launched a double to left to score Mullins to put K-D ahead 3-2. Ashenfetters also tried to score on the play, but a nice relay from left fielder Ebersole to third baseman Kirstyn Atherton to catcher Maria Burkett cut Ashenfetters down at home.
“That play saved a lot of damage,” JB coach Troy Pittman said. “The throw from the deep outfield was executed well. Also Maddie (Bailey) had an over-the-shoulder catch from shortstop to end the second inning with the bases loaded. If she doesn’t catch that ball the game might have gotten away from us.”
Mongold, who earned the complete-game victory, settled down after that third inning. Over the last 4 innings she only allowed 3 hits and notched 5 of her 8 strikeouts.
“Jenna struggled the first 3 innings,” Pittman said. “She was a little rusty from the layoff and the umps zone was really tight. The last 4 innings her off-speed pitches were a lot better keeping them off balance.”
JB tied and took the lead for good in the bottom of the third.
Brenna Hartman led off with a double and Bailey, who finished with 3 hits, singled. Mongold then brought Hartman home with the tying run (3-3)with an RBI ground out. And one batter later Ebersole singled in Bailey with the go-ahead run (4-3).
“The offense had some life tonight,” Pittman said. “Maddie getting on base three times and scoring twice was big. It helped settle the nerves getting the early lead because lately scoring runs has been difficult.”
The Lady Rockets added an insurance run in the fourth inning on Hartman’s RBI ground out.
“We executed well with some small ball,” Pittman said. ” Brenna hit the ball well as did the entire lineup.”
District 3 Class AAAA Quarterfinals
James Buchanan 5, Kennard-Dale 3
KD 021 000 0 – 3-8-2
JB 202 100 x – 5-8-2
WP-Mongold (7 ip, 8 h, 3 r, 1 er, 3 bb, 8 k)
2B-(JB) Brenna Hartman, Mongold.