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Panther softball keeps rolling with two wins over Raiders

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By Kelly Breckunitch

While Nemaha Central may have slowed down the Royal Valley softball team at the end of last week, the Raiders could not prevent a sweep as the Panthers still dispatched their Big Seven opponents at home with relative ease, 10-0 and 9-5.

In game one, it took Royal Valley a little time to get clicking on offense, but the Panthers only needed one run as starting pitcher Kaileigh Gray-Milligan was dominant early on and gave the Raiders all sorts of problems, allowing just two base-runners and striking out 11 batters in the complete game shutout.

“She’s been consistent the last two games,” RV coach Michelle Finnegan said. “She’s going out there and throwing well and her confidence just seems to get better every inning and every game. She’s going out there and she’s doing her job.

Gray-Milligan got a little support early after retiring the Raiders in order to start the game, as Jaycee Worrell led off the bottom of the first by getting hit by a pitch. After an error and a fielder’s choice, the bases were loaded for Marissa Lafferty. While she would hit into an out, she still managed to bring in the first run of the game.

After an uneventful second inning, the Panthers poured it on in the third inning. Leslie Schuetz reached on an error to start things off before Caitlin Burns followed with a single. A throwing error then allowed Lafferty to reach base safely and both Schuetz and Burns scored on the play, making it 3-0 in Royal Valley’s favor.

Clare Hanson followed with an RBI groundout and Kaylie Parker legged out an infield single after that. While the second out followed, both Masey Lafferty and Ali Bryan drew walks to load up the bases with two outs.

Worrell then came through with a two-out, two-RBI single to give the Panthers a commanding 6-0 lead. While the Raiders put two runners on to start the fourth inning, Gray-Milligan got out of that jam with two strikeouts and a fly ball out. Then, she struck out the side in the fifth to put an exclamation point on her dominant performance.

Meanwhile, the Panthers added one more run in the bottom of the fourth thanks to an RBI single from Sarah Beam before pushing the final three runs across in the fifth inning.

Burns and Marissa Lafferty had back-to-back singles to start things off before Hanson reached on an error that brought in one run. Parker then drove one up the middle that was also misplayed and brought in the final two runs of the game, giving Royal Valley a 10-0 run-rule victory.

Game 1

NC:    0-0-0-0-0-x-x—0

RV:  1-0-5-1-3-x-x—10

Statistics:

P:  RV- Gray-Milligan and Burns; NC- Haverkamp and Reitz.

SB:  RV- Worrell.

———

Nemaha Central would not be shut out in the second game of the evening, as the Raiders hit the ball better in the second game and jumped out to an early lead with an RBI single in the top of the first, but the Panthers were ready to respond.

After a lead-off walk drawn by Worrell, Schuetz doubled and Burns followed with a two-RBI single to give Royal Valley the lead. Burns then scored on a wild pitch to put RV up 3-1.

The Raiders evened things right back up in the second, thanks to another RBI single and a fielder’s choice allowing the tying run to score and make it a 3-3 ball game.

Burns then came through with a sacrifice fly in the home half of the inning before Sarah Beam drilled a ball over the outfield fence for a key home run in the third to put the Panthers ahead 5-3.

“For a freshman, she’s really hitting the ball and seeing the ball really well,” Finnegan said of Beam.

For every string of offense Royal Valley put together, though, the Raiders seemed to have an answer, as the visitors got two more RBI singles in the fourth inning to tie things back up at 5-5.

When the Raiders were able to tie the game up for the second time, Finnegan said one of the best traits of her players came out after she got on them and they responded.

“One thing I like about my kids is the character they have as far as I got on them and that inning they came in after I really chewed on them and they responded by making it 9-5 that inning and really jumped on them,” Finnegan said. “They don’t hang their heads. They come in, they get fired up and they respond immediately.”

Worrell started things off in the bottom of the fourth with a single and scored on Burns’ RBI double while Marissa Lafferty followed with an RBI triple.

After Lafferty scored on a wild pitch, Sarah Beam came through again with an RBI single that brought in the final run of the game and gave the Panthers a 9-5 lead. Royal Valley then held on through three mainly uneventful innings to secure the win.

While Finnegan noted the team had some offensive and defensive breakdowns in the second game, the Panthers still managed to get the sweep and will now prepare to take on Hiawatha on the road Tuesday with games starting at 4:30 p.m.

Game 2

NC:  1-2-0-2-0-0-0—5

RV:  3-1-1-4-0-0-x—9

Statistics:

P:  RV- H. Beam and Burns; NC- Schraad, Haverkamp and Reitz.

2B:  RV- Burns and Schuetz; NC- Schraad and McKernan.

3B:  RV- Mar. Lafferty.

HR:  RV- S. Beam.

SB:  RV- Burns (2); NC- Schraad.


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