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Lady Pack fall short to Clarksville

April 11, 2012
The Crawford County Lady Pack came up short against visiting Clarksville in girls' softball last Tuesday afternoon, 4-2. Despite the loss, coach Ernie Stroud said the team is improving with each day on the field.

"Last night (at Southridge), we played a little bit better team, and we played a little bit better," he said. "Tonight, we played a little bit better team than that, and we played a little bit better. We've got three freshmen starting in the defensive lineup."

Crawford County’s Shawna Johnson steals second base in the bottom of the sixth inning as the ball goes over Clarksville shortstop Ally Sparkman. Photos by Wade Bell
The Lady Generals came out slugging to begin the game. Following a Ally Sparkman lead-off single, Lexis Medlock walked. Shelby Carta then singled to score Sparkman and move MedLock to third. A sacrifice fly by Kiersten Hall scored MedLock for a 2-0 lead.

With one outs and Summer Dees at the plate, Carta went to third on a passed ball. Dees then punched a sacrifice fly to score Carta and the Lady Generals had a 3-0 lead.

"They've got everybody back from last year," Stroud said.

Crawford County got one of those runs back in the bottom of the inning. With one out, senior Mary Bolin ripped a triple, and Arianna Qualters was hit by a pitch. Mikayla Bowman hit into a fielder's choice situation, but the Lady Generals failed to make the play, leaving everybody safe as Bolin crossed the plate.

"Basically, they're young at some important positions," Stroud said of his team. "It's a senior catcher and a senior pitcher and senior in centerfield. You need to be strong up the middle. Well, our experience is up the middle. Everything else is sophomore and freshmen."

The second, third and fourth innings went scoreless, but Clarksville got on the board again in the top of the fifth. Brooke Lucas walked, and Miranda Ridenour and Sparkman bunted with the help of a pair of Crawford County errors to load the bases. With one out, Carta singled to score Lucas, and the Lady Generals' lead swelled to 4-1.

Crawford County blanked in the bottom of the inning, but the Lady Generals also failed to score in the top of the sixth.

In the bottom of the inning, Crawford County's Shawna Johnson reached on an infield single then stole second with the ball flying over Sparkman's head. Brittany Smith walked, and then came a complicated play where Karissa Hensley reached first on an Clarksville error to score Johnson. Smith tried to give the Lady Pack another run, but she was tagged out at home. Hensley went to third but also was tagged out, leaving no one on base for Nikki Novak, who grounded out to end the inning.

"We've got some young girls that are hitting the ball, and there's just a few things we need to get straightened out on that," Stroud said. "They will hit as we go along."

Crawford County catcher Mary Bolin holds on to the ball to put out Clarksville’s Lexis MedLock in the seventh inning of the Lady Generals’ 4-2 win.
Crawford County kept the Lady Generals from putting any more runs on the board in the seventh inning but went down in order in the bottom of the inning, giving Clarksville the 4-2 win.

"We had a couple of walks and stuff there early to get runners on, and they scored them early," Stroud said. "After we got around that, we did a pretty good job. (Pitcher) Nikki (Novak) settled in and did a pretty good job. She was hitting her spots really good. We were calling some pitches where we had to have them, and she was getting them there. When they scored that run there, she lost her location a little bit there in that inning."

Crawford County had three hits, but the Lady Pack finished with four errors. Novak struck out five, walked three and hit one Clarksville batter. The Lady Pack left six runners on base.

Stroud said Johnson has been a pleasant surprise, hitting the ball well and being aggressive on the bases.

"She got a double down at Southridge, a gapper in left-center, and hit the ball hard a couple of other times," he said.

"Some of those younger girls are having a hard time finding a place to play it. We've got a fair nucleus of seniors. Qualters is a good catcher, but Mary works better with Nikki. So, we've got a little bit of a thing there we've got to work with, a chemistry problem," Stroud said. "Mary is a versatile player. She can play outfield, infield, catch; one of these days she might have to pitch. We're not deep in pitching past Nikki."

Clarksville also had three hits, with Carta rapping the ball twice for singles. From the pitching circle, Amber Perez struck out eight, walked one and hit two batters. The Lady Generals left seven runners stranded on base and committed two errors.

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