Kelly’s 18s sweep Columbus Bullets
In the never-ending process of teaching players the value of a short memory, Kelly’s 18s coach Kent Rucker watched his team teach itself a lesson Tuesday night.
It came while beating the Columbus Bullets 13-6 in the opening game of a doubleheader at Ta-Ha-Zouka Park. Instead of dwelling on a rough top of the third, Kelly’s responded to it with a 10-spot that closed out the win.
“That last play doesn’t matter. You’ve just got to wash your mind of it and go forward,” Rucker said. “We’ve struggled a couple times this year doing that, so, hopefully, we’ll keep working on it. The girls show a lot of heart.”
Kelly’s also won game two 9-3 to improve to 9-4-2 on the season.
Leading 3-0 after two innings, Kelly’s next at bat came facing a 6-3 deficit after the Bullets scored six runs on seven hits in the top of the third. But the imposing number on the scoreboard didn’t cause the 18s to hang their heads.
Instead, they sent 15 batters to the plate — scoring nine runs without an out — to lift pitcher Bailey Rucker, who allowed two hits over the first two innings, to earn the time-shortened win.
Rucker allowed 10 hits and six runs in three innings but was picked up by the 10-run third.
“If we get the bats going, it gives us all sort of options,” Rucker said. “We ran well on the bases and finally were patient enough at the plate to wait for the pitch we wanted. When we’re hitting, they’re all in and it’s contagious. When you get a couple hitting, everyone gains that confidence.”
That confidence, at least in game one, showed up in the form of singles.
All six of Kelly’s hits in the third were singles, with Mattie Young, Grace Zautke, Sidney Kassmeier, Leighann Miller, Kristen Herchenbach, Jaida Thompson and Rucker driving in runs.
Thompson also got the 18s going in the first with an RBI single before scoring on an RBI single by Makayla Slahn that gave Kelly’s an early 2-0 lead. Miller scored on a wild pitch in the second inning to extend the lead to 3-0.
Kelly’s finished with nine hits in the opener with Thompson going 2 for 2 with a walk and three runs scored and Zautke adding a pair of hits to go along with two RBIs.
In game two, Kelly’s didn’t waste time with singles.
Of its 11 hits, four were of the extra-base variety with Maggie Berryman blasting a three-run homer to lead the way. Miller had a triple, and Alyx Siems and Young both doubled.
Sidney Kassmeier earned the win, working five innings and striking out four batters while allowing three earned runs on seven hits.
Kelly’s will return to action Thursday in a doubleheader at Pierce before traveling to Mitchell, S.D., for a weekend tournament.
“They’ve never given up on me, and they’ve never given up on any game,” Rucker said. “They battle until the end, and when we start hitting like this it’s contagious. Everyone starts hitting, they start having a little more fun. Once you start having fun, you play loose and play fast and good things happen.”
Columbus Bullets 0 0 6 — 6 10 1
Kelly’s 18s 2 1 10 — 13 10 0
WP: Bailey Rucker. 2B: Alyx Siems, Kristen Herchenbach.
Kelly’s 18s 0 3 2 1 3 — 9 11 0
Columbus Bullets 1 0 1 1 0 — 3 7 2
WP: Sidney Kassmeier. 2B: Alyx Siems, Mattie Young. 3B: Leighann Miller. HR: