The first time the Lady Raiders Softball Team’s cleats hit dirt this season was to play their first game, a double header in Campbell County, followed the next day by an 11-inning marathon in Williamsburg.
The recent snow, rain and cold temperatures made it impossible for the team to practice on the field, so the only preparation the Lady Raiders have had has been in the close confinement of the gym. While fine for batting drills, the lack of practice room does not make it easy to get defense up to speed.
The Lady Raiders’ defense started shaky against Campbell County Monday afternoon, but quickly settled down as McCreary swept their first two contests. 6-4, 10-4.
On Tuesday some ill-timed errors denied McCreary their chance for a dramatic come from behind, extra-innings win against the Williamsburg Lady Yellow Jackets.
The Lady Raiders’ bats were sharp enough, pounding out 10 hits, including two home runs by Cierra Terry, but their defense gave up three runs in the bottom of the 11th inning to spoil the Raiders’ comeback.
McCreary struck first, plating two runs in the top of the third inning, with Terry and Cammie Gilreath scoring on a Cyndol Kiser double to left.
Williamsburg answered back in the bottom half of the inning, scoring four runs off three hits and two errors in the frame. Further damage was avoided at the end of the inning when catcher Regan Kidd alertly noticed a Yellow Jacket player failed to step on home plate when trying to score.
Calling for the ball, Kidd stepped on the plate, and the runner was ruled out, ending the inning with McCreary trailing 4-2.
The score remained unchanged over the next three innings as both teams wasted scoring opportunities.
In the top of the 7th, McCreary was down to their final at-bats when the comeback started.
Madison Ross started the rally by reaching safely on a dropped third strike with one out.
Terry followed with a no-doubt two-run blast over the left field fence to tie the game 4-4.
McCreary couldn’t push ahead in the rest of the inning, but Williamsburg stranded a runner on third in their half of the frame to send the game into extra innings.
The Lady Raiders only managed to get a single runner on base over the next three innings, but pitcher Kaylee Cotton was strong over the three frames, allowing only one single to the opponents.
With the score still tied going into the top of the 11th inning, McCreary made their move.
With two outs Ross’s sharply hit base-hit to right put the potential go-ahead run on base, and Terry made sure the run would score – blasting her second homer of the game, clearing the left field fence with ease and putting her team ahead 6-4.
With darkness falling and the temperatures plummeting, Williamsburg came up to bat for possibly the final time.
Things went sour for McCreary quickly.
A lead-off single was compounded by a misplayed ball, allowing the runner to advance to second. The next batter hit a blooper over second base, falling just beyond the reach of the Lady Raiders’ gloves, putting runners on the corners.
It looked like McCreary had a chance to hold Williamsburg when the next batter weakly grounded to the pitcher. Cotton fielded the ball cleanly, and looked the runner back at third before turning to make the play at first, but in the process her face-mask slipped over her eyes, causing her to overthrow the base, and allowing one run to cross the plate and putting the tying run at third, and the winning run at second.
The next batter hit a grounder to second, but a fielding error allowed both runners to score and ending the game with a 7-6 Williamsburg win.
McCreary holds a 2-1 record to start the season.
The Lady Raiders play at Knox Central Thursday, at Oneida Friday and will play their home-opener against Corbin on Tuesday afternoon.