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Double delight

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Union County catcher Kristin Klein goes upstairs to haul in a strike at Connersville on Saturday.
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Connersville junior Jeri Ellis connects for a two-run home run against Union County at Spartan Field. Ellis finished with three RBI to help the Lady Spartans defeat the Patriots 11-10 in the first of two games on Saturday. Ellis also picked up the win on the mound in the game.
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Connersville’s Madison Fields unleashes a pitch against Union County in the second game of a doubleheader at Spartan Field on Saturday. Fields pitched all five innings and scattered seven hits in CHS’ 16-5 win over the Lady Patriots.

By GRADY TATE - gtate@newsexaminer.com

Always on the lookout for a confidence lift, girls softball head coach David Ellis sent his starting nine onto Spartan Field for a season-opening doubleheader against Union County on Saturday.

Winning both ends of the double-dip, Ellis believes that his charges achieved a measure of what he’s been searching for.

“Union County is a really good team, and we split with them last year,” the CHS coach said. “(UC head coach) Scott Gray has developed a very good program there, so to win twice against them is really going to boost the girls’ confidence going forward.”

Connersville found two ways to win on the day, holding on for an 11-10 victory in the opener, before scoring 11 runs in the first two innings of Game 2, on the way to a lopsided 16-5 win.

The Lady Patriots stand at 3-3, following the pair of losses.

“We are extremely young right now,” Gray said of his charges. “We have a lot of inexperience at different spots. So everything we do right now is a learning process for several of these girls.”

In spite of that inexperience, UC showed a lot of moxie in Game 1, after Connersville scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to turn a 6-5 lead into an 11-5 cushion.

The Patriots struck back with five runs of their own in the top of the sixth, however, pulling back to within one 11-10.

“To get down like we did against a great Connersville team, and then come back like we did and have a chance to win the game was terrific,” Gray said. “We were very happy the way the girls answered the bell after going down six runs. We made a game of it, and had an opportunity to possibly win it.”

“We weren’t able to get outs in that inning,” Ellis said of his defense during Union County’s rally. “They got themselves back in the game with a couple of good hits, helped by a few mistakes by us. 

“Those are the things that we need to work on getting better at. I’m hoping that the girls learned a lot in a game like that one.”

After Connersville (2-0) failed to put anything on the board in the bottom of the sixth, UC loaded the bases in the top of the seventh, but was unable to push the tying run across.

In Game 2, CHS wasted little time in grabbing control, scoring six times in the first inning, then adding another five tallies in the second, to take an 11-2 lead.

“We jumped out quickly, taking a 6-2 lead in the first inning,” Ellis said. “Their pitcher struggled a little bit, and we added a couple of very timely hits to grab the large advantage. If we can keep opponents on the field longer on defense, it’s going to be a longer game, over all, for them.

“We hit the ball better in the second game, and that really rubs off on everything when you do that.”

The large deficit had an effect on the Patriot girls, Gray said.

“In the second game, we failed to throw strikes, and didn’t get off to as hot a start hitting as we should have,” he said. “We got a little deflated at that point, and again, a lot of that is our youth.

“I don’t think some of the girls are used to how to deal with some of that yet.”

CHS added three runs in the third and two more in the fourth to put the game out of reach.

At the plate, Connersville was led by Ashley Ruble, who collected five hits through the two games, including three doubles. She drove in a total of six runs and scored four times. 

Jeri Ellis, Kylie Jackson and Katie Steele added three hits each through the two games, Ellis driving in five runs, and Steele chasing home four runners.

Both Ellis (Game 1) and Steele (Game 2) hit home runs in the doubleheader. For Steele, it was the first of her career.

“You get a girl that has never hit a home run before, and it’s exciting to watch,” Ellis said.

“I hope that this is going to give her confidence going forward.”

Union County was led at the plate by Kristin Klein, Fayth Hill, Rainey Shepler and Roya Walton, all of whom collected three hits through the two contests. Two of Hill’s hits were doubles, as was one of Klein’s. Walton slapped a triple in Game 1. Klein drove in four runs, and Hill collected three RBI.

Winning on the mound for CHS was Jeri Ellis in the opener, and Madison Fields in the second contest.

In spite of the losses, Gray was upbeat about the direction his team is headed.

“This team is playing for May, we really are,” he said. “We’ve got a chance to compete in the conference, and we’re trying to prepare these girls for a sectional run.

“We had 20 hits today, and when I see that against this kind of pitching, that’s really got me thrilled. If we can keep doing that, we’ll put ourselves in just about every game.”

 

Union County at Connersville

(at Spartan Field)

GAME 1

Lady Spartans 11, Lady Patriots 10

Union County 120 115 0 — 10 13 4

Connersville 021 350 x — 11 7 6

WP: Jeri Ellis (1-0)

LP: Fayth Hill

Union County — Tara Williams 0-4, Tori Russell 1-5, Kristin Klein 2-5, Haylee Richards 2-5, Fayth Hill 2-5, Rainey Shepler 2-3, Madison Gray 2-4, Kayla Campbell 0-3, Kyane Alcorn 0-1, Roya Walton 2-3. Totals 13-38.

Connersville (1-0) — Jeri Ellis 2-3, Kylie Jackson 1-2, Allison Woytik 0-3, Madison Fields 0-3, Ashley Ruble 3-3, Allison Kibbey 1-3, Braxton Newton 1-3, Hailey Elliott 0-1, Katie Steele 0-2, Haylee Perry 0-2. Totals 7-25.

HR — Connersville 1 (Ellis). 3B — Union County 1 (Walton). 2B — Union County 2 (Klein, Hill), Connersville 2 (Ellis, Ruble). RBI — Union County 6 (Klein 3, Williams, Russell, Hill), Connersville 8 (Ellis 3, Ruble 2, Kibbey, Perry, Woytik). Runs — Union County 10 (Williams 2, Walton 2, Russell, Klein, Richards, Hill, Shepler, Gray), Connersville 11 (Ellis 2, Perry 2, Jackson 2, Woytik, Fields, Ruble, Newton, Steele).

GAME 2

Lady Spartans 16, Lady Patriots 5

Union County 200 03 — 5 7 3

Connersville 653 2x — 16 11 0

WP: Madison Fields

LP: Fayth Hill

Union County — Tara Williams 2-3, Tori Russell 1-2, Kristin Klein 1-3, Haylee Richards 0-3, Fayth Hill 1-2, Brooke Shelton 0-1, Rainey Shepler 1-3, Madison Gray 0-1, Maddie Hoke 0-2, Kyane Alcorn 0-0, Roya Walton 1-2. Totals 7-22.

Connersville (2-0) — Jeri Ellis 1-2, Kylie Jackson 2-4, Allison Woytik 1-2, Madison Fields 1-3, Lexi Showalter 0-0, Ashley Ruble 2-3, Allison Kibbey 1-3, Braxton Newton 0-1, Kylie Gibson 0-1, Katie Steele 3-3, Crystyn Siefert 0-2, Kiara Lykins 0-1. Totals 11-25.

HR — Connersville 1 (Steele). 3B — Union County 1 (Russell). 2B — Union County 1 (Hill), Connersville 4 (Ruble 2, Ellis, Woytik). RBI — Union County 5 (Russell 2, Hill 2, Klein), Connersville 15 (Ruble 4, Steele 4, Kibbey 3, Ellis 2, Fields, Lykins). Runs — Union County 5 (Williams 2, Russell, Klein, Walton), Connersville 16 (Woytik 3, Fields 3, Ruble 3, Kibbey 2, Jackson 2, Ellis, Newton, Steele).