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Crawford County falls to Salem, 6-3

April 06, 2011
The Crawford County softball team came into its season-opener against Salem last Tuesday with only one senior and a lot of inexperience. Despite that, the Lady Pack held their own until late in the game, when the visiting Lady Lions pulled away to get a 6-3 win.

"I was really pleased with our game," Crawford County coach Ernie Stroud said. "They had seven seniors, and we had one. A lot of girls were out there playing without any experience. But one thing about us, what we should be able to do, we should be a little bit quicker and faster than we've been in the past."

Crawford County’s Candace Simpson makes a diving catch in the third inning against Salem in the Lady Pack’s season-opener. The Lady Lions, however, came away with a 6-3 win. Photo by Wade Bell
Salem got on the board first in the first inning. Bailey Walker reached on a Crawford County error. Taylor Eastridge and Morgan Hasty then both singled, with Walker scoring on the latter to give the Lady Lions a 1-0 lead.

Crawford County quickly countered in the bottom of the inning. Ashley Forbes and Brittany Smith got back-to-back doubles to score Forbes. Carolyn Pellman got on after a Salem error, then Arianna Qualters followed with a double to score Smith for a 2-1 Lady Pack lead.

Both teams went scoreless in the second, then Salem answered in the top of the third. Crawford County got a big defensive play by Candace Simpson, who made a diving catch in right field to put out Walker. Following that, a Crawford County error allowed Eastridge a free base. Eastridge stole second with Hasty at the plate and later scored when Hasty grounded to third to tie the game at 2.

Neither team scored again till the fifth inning when Salem rapped in three runs. Walker walked then Eastridge singled. Hasty flew out to center field, but Walker and Eastridge advanced to second and third, respectively. Another Crawford County error then allowed both runners to score for a 4-2 Salem lead. Salem got another run with two outs when Brooklyn Miller ripped a triple to score Kristie Taylor for a 5-2 advantage.

"A couple of innings there, (pitcher) Nikki (Novak) kind of struggled with her location," Stroud said. "They had a couple of girls that hadn't hit the ball the first couple of trips up. She got it out of location where they were good-sized girls. They were able to get their hands out, and the pitch was up and they drove it pretty good. Otherwise, she did a pretty good job."

Crawford County got one of those runs back in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, a Salem error allowed Mary Bolin on base. Karissa Hensley then ripped a double, but Bolin was held to third. The Crawford County junior did cross the plate, however, on a Salem passed ball, and Crawford County's deficit was cut to 5-3.

Salem countered again in the top of the seventh. Hasty smacked a long triple to start the inning. Taylor followed with a double to score Hasty for a 6-3 lead.

In the bottom half of the inning, Crawford County went three-up-and-out to give the Lady Lions the win.

"We've got some people learning positions and playing in positions they're going to be able to make some plays," Stroud said. "They're going to be able to allow some other people to play in some positions that I think we're going to just get better as we go along and gain experience with these really young girls."

Crawford County finished with seven hits, five for extra bases, but had four errors. Smith and Forbes had two hits each. Novak struck out three Lady Lions and walked one.

"The girls that hit the ball early are girls that's going to have to hit it for us," Stroud said. "We've got some other girls that can hit it that didn't hit it tonight. The first two girls that batted, they took third strikes. They've been the ones creaming the ball in practice. They'll probably get where they'll be able to hit some. Like (Arianna) Qualters, she hit a line shot right at the shortstop in a crucial situation. She's going to be able to hit."

Stroud said his only senior, Pellman, did a good job of communicating with her teammates to get them in the right positions.

"She's a senior, and it's her team," he said. "I told her that. I said, 'I watched you play basketball this winter, and you did the things you can do.' Herself, she's probably our best shortstop, but we're playing her at first base because that's a spot we need."

Salem finished with 10 hits and had two errors. Hasty and Miller finished with two hits each. From the pitching circle, Miller struck out seven and walked none for the seven innings.

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