By Stephen Smoot
After a tough stretch of games against talented squads, Pendleton County hosted Hampshire on a night where a powerful line of storms moved through the area, but did not shut down play. The triple A Trojans brought skills, but could not slow down the Wildcat bats.
Visiting Hampshire struck first in the top of the first. Avery Townsend made an athletic play to snag a screaming line drive for the initial out. The second batter sent a single into left field, followed by a hit and run play leaving runners on first and second with no outs. Pitcher Allie Vance struck out the next batter, but the base runners executed a double steal to take second and third.
The next batter knocked a base hit past third base, scoring two runs. Two batters later, a base hit to left scored a third run and that is where scoring halted.
Pendleton County showed explosive offense starting in their half of the first. Townsend, who brings a Rickey Henderson-like combination of power and speed, sent a 3-2 pitch deep into left centerfield. She outraced the throw from the outfield for her fourth home run of the year.
Two batters later, Baylee Beachler hustled down the first base line to beat a throw. When the throw went errant, she took second. Katie Hedrick followed that with a base hit to centerfield, scoring the speedy Beachler, allowing the Wildcats to close to a 3-2 score.
Vance only allowed a walk in the top of the second. This gave her team the opportunity to surge ahead in the bottom of the inning. Nataley Hedrick made it to first on a throwing error with one out, setting the table for Townsend who hit a high line drive over the centerfield wall for her second home run of the game and fifth for the season.
Hampshire took over in the top of the third down 4-3, but again found themselves shut down by Vance. In the bottom of the inning, Katie Hedrick got on base with one out when she hit into centerfield. Hannah Rexrode drove a shot to left field that Hampshire misplayed, scoring Hedrick and giving Pendleton County a 5-3 lead.
The Trojans, however, surged in the top of the fourth. The first batter fired a base hit to left, followed by a base hit to right. The subsequent hitter hit a double that scored two runs batted in. A single to left scored their third run of the inning and sixth of the game.
Nataley Hedrick started the Wildcat half of the fourth with a single. Townsend followed with a single of her own after Hedrick stole third. During Lizzie Alt’s at bat, a passed ball allowed both runners to advance, then she drove in Hedrick. Another passed ball sent Townsend home as Vance earned a walk. The Wildcats in the meantime had regained the lead at 7-6.
The thunder from Pendleton County’s bats was joined by lightning from clouds overhead, forcing a 45-minute delay. Hampshire took advantage of the rest to score three runs of their own in the top of the fifth. In the bottom of the inning, however, came the deluge.
Pendleton County brought batters up 14 times in the bottom of the fifth, starting with a stand up double from Jenna Smith. Rexrode knocked her in with a base hit to center. Ashton Hess then earned a walk on five pitches.
Nataley Hedrick came to the plate with runners at first and second with no outs. After a double steal sent runners to second and third, a passed ball allowed Smith, the tying run, to score. Townsend then hit an RBI stand up triple, leaving her only one double short of a cycle. Alt followed with a 3-0 RBI sacrifice.
The hit parade continued as Vance belted a two out home run. Beachler and Katie Hedrick drew walks from the visibly fatigued Trojan pitcher. This left Smith at the plate with two outs and runners at the corners. A passed ball brought in the 14th Wildcat run while Smith drew a walk. Rexrode came up with a runner on first and drove her in with a standing double. Hess’s line drive to center scored the final run of the inning, giving her squad a commanding 16-9 lead.
Vance walked the first batter of the top of the sixth, then struck out the next three in order. In the bottom of the inning, Alt battled the pitcher. The seventh pitch put her on base with a walk. During Vance’s at bat, a series of passed balls brought Vance home to end the game with a 17-9 score.
In the second game of the double header, the Wildcats battered the Trojans 12-6.
Pendleton County also traveled to a Frankfort team ranked fifth in double A, but dropping four of six coming into the weekend game. The Wildcats made an immediate statement by driving in 14 in the first inning on their way to a 19-2 win. Julia Mongold, Townsend, Katie Hedrick and Beachler each got two hits. Katie Hedrick drove in four while Mongold and Beachler had two RBIs.
Beachler’s pitching dominated the second game. She racked up 12 strikeouts in a complete game shutout. The Wildcats won 5-0.