The left side of Southeastern’s softball infield is well known for defense, but check out Tuesday’s second game against East Central.
That would be third baseman Lacie Cook and shortstop Haley Strawn. They combined to go six for six, score three runs, belt a double and drive in two runs.
Combine that with Mindy McElroy’s masterful circle work and the LadyStorm overcame a nightmare start when EC posted a 17-2 five-inning run rule in the opener and came back for a 6-2 victory in the nightcap.
LadyStorm coach Ron Faubion said, “I was really proud of the way the kids came back in the second game. Again, we had some great defensive plays and Mindy pitched well. She threw one bad pitch, in the seventh inning, and it left the park for a two-run homer.
“Jacee (Bennett) was really pitching well going into the break, but she wasn’t sharp in the opener. When you have to groove the ball and you throw as hard as she does, bad things can happen against a good-hitting team and East Central is one of the best in the league.
“If you play enough games, you will run into one of these 17-2 games when nothing you do works. EC did a good job in the first game and hit the ball well.”
SE allowed a two-run inning, two six-run frames and a three-run inning on 13 hits in the first game. The second game was a different story with the LadyStorm giving up only two runs in the top of the seventh on six hits.
Bennett took the loss in the opener in a rough outing that saw her give up 14 runs on 11 hits and fall to 7-3. Hosanna McCoy pitched the last 1.1 innings and allowed three unearned runs on two hits.
McElroy pitched a complete game with two earned runs on six hits, one walk, three strikeouts and improved to 11-3.
Southeastern is now 21-8 overall and 14-4 in the Great American Conference. EC is 18-13 and 10-8.
The LadyStorm turned in some outstanding defensive plays with left fielder Darrian Williams making a diving catch on a ball hit just over the infield and pulling down a drive that was over her head.
McElroy turned in a pair of defensive gems, including making the play at first on a ball that got by a diving Lauren Renneker and taking the throw from second baseman Jessica Simmons.
Strawn had several outstanding plays where she had to come in on grounders and was still able to make the throw in time.
The LadyStorm will host Southern Arkansas in Friday-Saturday doubleheaders with a 1 p.m. start Friday and an 11 a.m. start on Saturday.
East Central opened the scoring with a two-run homer by Leah Tigert in the first inning, then added six in the third, sparked by Jordynn VanPelt’s grand slam before adding six runs on seven hits in the fourth and closing it out with three runs in the fifth.
Southeastern made it a 2-1 game when Laramie Beal led off the second inning with her seventh homer of the year. The Storm left runners on base in every inning except the first, but added only one more run when Jessica Simmons walked, was wild-pitched to second, went to third on grounder to first and scored on Sydney Kramer’s roller to first.
VanPelt had a career game for the Lady Tigers with three for four, a grand slam, two-run triple and eight runs batted in. Hits were scarce for the Storm with Beal going one for one with a home run, Simmons and Connor Harmon one for two each. Simmons also scored a run.
McElroy tamed the Lady Tigers through the first six innings, giving up only four hits while striking out three and walking one on a 10-hit at-bat that had at least nine strikes thrown.
Strawn opened the second with a single, stole second, went to third on a throwing error and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Lauren Renneker.
Cook doubled in the third for the second of her three-straight hits, Kramer walked, Beal punched a double to left-center to drive in a run, went to third on a throwing error that let Kramer score and Strawn singled home Beal to make it 4-0.
Strawn’s base hit drove in a run in the fifth and Beal scored on a wild pitch to make it 6-0.
EC averted a shutout on a two-run homer in the top of the seventh.
Cook and Strawn were three for three each to pace the Storm. Cook scored two runs, Strawn scored once and drove in a pair.
Whitney Hamilton was one for one as a pinch-hitter, Kramer and Beal were one for three each.
Gina Mengwasser led EC with a two-run homer as a pinch-hitter.