Monday afternoon marked the opening of tournament play for first-year coach Kelly Boerger and her North Adams Lady Devils softball squad and in her home field tourney debut, Coach Boerger and her troops were successful, using a combination of great pitching and stellar defense to knock off the visiting Eastern Pike Lady Eagles by a final score of 4-2.
The formula for success for the Lady Devils has been pretty much the same all season, get a strong pitching performance from ace Jade Spriggs, play solid defense behind her, and create enough offense to get the job done. All of those factors were in play on Monday as Spriggs fired a complete game, the North Adams defense committed just one error, and some “small ball” on offense produced the needed amount of runs.
“Our girls were patient and smart at the plate tonight,” said Coach Boerger. “That is something we have struggled with all season. We are an anxious group who always want to swing at the ball instead of taking advantage of free opportunities to get on base.”
“Tonight we also had some key sacrifice bunts that allowed us to move runners into scoring position and we were able to take advantage.”
It wasn’t a glamorous start for North Adams as the underdog Lady Eagles began the game with two runs in the top of the first, all of those coming after two were out and aided by the only Lady Devils’ fielding miscue of the day. That was the end of the Eastern offense, however, as Spriggs slammed the door and blanked the visitors the rest of the way, at one point retiring 12 batters in a row.
North Adams got one of those runs back in the bottom of the first. Spriggs led off with single to left, stole second,was bunted to third on a perfect sacrifice by Hayley Taylor, and scored on a Kylie Branch ground out to second base.
The Lady Devils took the lead for good in the bottom of the second, scoring twice. Taylor Whited led off with a single to center and moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Courtney Whalen. After Karly Boerger showed some of that patience that her coach mentioned and drew a walk, a sacrifice fly to left by Haley Crews brought Whited home. A grounder to third off the bat of Spriggs was misplayed, bring home Boerger with the go-ahead run, making it 3-2 North Adams.
That lead held up as Spriggs mowed through the Eastern Pike lineup with perfect innings in the third, fourth, and fifth. In the bottom of the fifth, the Lady Devils picked up a crucial insurance run when Spriggs walked, her third time on base in three at-bats, then stole second, and went to third on a passed ball. Another perfect bunt by Taylor brought home the fourth North Adams run of the game.
Spriggs gave up a base hit to open the top of the sixth, but allowed the runners to advance no further. North Adams went down in order in the bottom of the sixth, sending the Devils to the field needing three outs to secure a sectional win. Three batters later, the game was over as Spriggs got the Lady Eagles 1-2-3 and the Lady Devils were on their way to a sectional title game, sending Eastern Pike home on the short end of a 4-2 score.
In the win, the Lady Devils only managed three hits off Eastern pitching but as Coach Boerger commented, they took advantage of their opportunities, drawing six walks, with two of those runners scoring.
Spriggs picked up another win, going all seven innings, allowing five hits, striking out eight and not walking a single hitter. She also scored two of her team’s four runs.
The Lady Devils were scheduled to travel to Paint Valley on Thursday to face the No. 3 seed Lady Bearcats from the Scioto Valley Conference in a sectional championship game. The spring storms that blasted through the area on Wednesday left conditions in bad enough shape that the game was moved to Friday afternoon at 5 p.m. at Paint Valley High School. Look for a full report on that contest in a future issue of The People’s Defender.
Mark Carpenter can be reached at 937-544-2391 or on Twitter @adamscosports.
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Eastern Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Veach 3-0-1-0, Staker 3-1-1-0, Wyke 3-1-1-1, Sexton 3-0-0-0, Craft 3-0-0-0, Howard 3-0-1-0, Roberts 3-0-1-0, Garrison 3-0-0-0, Team 24-2-5-1.
N. Adams Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Spriggs 2-2-1-0, Taylor 1-0-0-1, Branch 1-0-0-1, Young 2-0-0-0, Creech 0-0-0-0, Dunseith 3-0-1-0, T. Whited 3-1-1-0, Whalen 0-0-0-0, Richter 2-0-0-0, Boerger 0-1-0-, Crews 1-0-0-1, Team 15-4-3-3.
Eastern Pitching: Staker (L) 6 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 6 BB, 1 K
N. Adams Pitching: Spriggs (W) 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K