The first three batters for No. 7 Picayune reach base Friday night only to end up stranded. By contrast, No. 1 Harrison Central also had it’s first three batters get aboard. The difference on the gusty evening in Lyman was the homestanding Red Rebelettes and three-time reigning Class 6A champs cashed in on their early opportunities, plating nine runs in the first en route to a 10-4 victory.
The first inning summed up the night for Picayune (9-4-1), as the Maroon Tide also had their first two batters in the third inning reach scoring position only to head back to the dugout after three straight outs.
“(HCHS) did what they’re supposed to do. They swung their bats, ran well and we didn’t make the routine plays when we needed to,” Picayune coach Kristi Mitchell said. “Obviously that put us into a bind and anytime somebody can jump out on you like that it’s tough. I thought we scratched and we fought so we’ll learn a lot from this.”
Picayune did plate two runs in the second when a high popup off the bat of Alyssa Pinero dropped in.
Madyson Turnage also delivered a two-run double to right field in the fifth inning. While the timely hit distanced the visitors from a potential run-rule finale, the Tide still trailed 10-4.
“One thing we’re struggling on is getting the hit when we need it. It’s something we’re really working on,” Mitchell said. “We have been able to do it some, we just haven’t been able to step up when we needed to.
“Hopefully as the season progresses we’ll realize how important that is and how those hits with runners in scoring position matter.”
Kayla Cade opened the offense in the first for HCHS (13-2) with a RBI single. Following a two-run error, starting pitcher Juli Evans helped her cause with a two-run single. Another two-run single through the left side by Daijah Richardson, a RBI double from Ashley Terwilliger and a run-scoring ground out by Amari Ramsey gave the Red Rebelettes a 9-0 lead after the first inning.
“We hit everything hard. They made some errors because the balls were hard hit, but we hit some gappers, too,” HCHS coach Jimmy Parker said. “We saw the ball real well. The left-hander’s (Elizabeth Taggard) a good pitcher, we just saw the ball well.”
Zharia Richardson’s base hit up the middle in the second gave HCHS a 10-2 lead.
Ramping it up
Usual aces Megan Dudenhefer for Picayune and Kristen Cade for HCHS entered the game in relief in the third and fourth innings respectively. The change in velocity was noticeable as both No. 1s ratcheted up their fastballs to quiet the opposition’s bats the rest of the way.
Dudenhefer collected 12 strikeouts in four shutout innings; Cade struck out five while allowing two runs in relief.
“That was some of the best she’s done all year. She pitched well tonight,” Parker said of Cade. “I think she’s just now getting into a rhythm. She hasn’t gotten to pitch a lot of innings, actually. She only pitched 32 innings coming into tonight.”
HCHS returns to Region 8-6A play Tuesday with a road game at Gulfport. Picayune has a home rivalry game against Poplarville on Monday.