FLEMINGSBURG – Having three games postponed during the week and prom coming up the following night could have caused distraction for the Fleming County softball team.
Early on it looked as if they may have had their minds elsewhere, but once the third inning hit, the Lady Panthers were all systems go as they topped Mason County, 11-1 in five innings on Friday.
“I told them after the game I didn’t feel like their heads was entirely in it, at least to start out and I let them know about it,” Lady Panthers coach Nathan Ryver said. “When we’re in the field, we’re softball players. You can be teenagers and prom-goers afterwards.”
Sidney Argo continued her torrid pace at the plate, reaching base all four times, Morgan Fern cleaned up runners on the bases and Caroline Price pitched her best game of the season so far in the victory.
Argo was the igniter early on as her speed was on full display, getting the Lady Panthers on the board as she reached base on a bunt single, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, stole third and then stole home as Lady Royals catcher Shelby Thompson threw back to pitcher Lexy Cooper, before Cooper knew it, Argo was racing home and stole the base with ease to make it 1-0 in the first.
Cooper and Price would settle in the circle from there as they played the next inning and a half scoreless, Mason County putting together some solid defensive plays to keep the Lady Panthers off the board.
“Today was the lowest amount of errors we had in a while,” Sapp said, who said they entered the game having committed 78 errors on the season. “Our fundamental game was better today and I feel like today was a step forward.”
But in the third, a Fern two-run homer to straightaway center opened up the floodgates, making it 4-0 Lady Panthers. They’d add another run in the frame as Price scored on a passed ball.
The Lady Royals would strike back in the top of the fourth when Kyndal Dotson’s single scored Emily Huber from second, making it 5-1.
The Lady Panthers would follow with another four-spot on the board as Argo got the inning started with her third hit of the game on a bunt single. Fern drove her in after reaching on an error and scored when Kennedy Perkins drove her in with a triple. Price would drive Perkins in with a sacrifice fly followed by a Brie Stacey RBI single, scoring Faith Adolf.
Fleming finalized the contest in the fifth with the run-rule as Argo scored the 10th run of the contest followed by Bethany Sergent scoring on Price’s walk-off bloop single to center.
“I think after the first time through the lineup we were out in front, reaching and popping stuff up. Or we were trying to kill the ball, crunching everything which drops your hands. So we settled down, got the ball on the ground, made them field the ball and then finally got a little something going,” Ryver said.
Argo finished 4-for-4 with four runs scored and four stolen bases. After leading the state in batting average as an eighth grader, her batting average on the season improved from .714 to .750, which also leads the state once again. Fern drove in three runs while Price drove in two.
“Sidney struggled the first two games of the season but has taken off ever since. Mo (Fern) is hitting everything that she’s seeing right now, that makes things easy,” Ryver said.
Price pitched the complete game in the circle, allowing five hits, an earned run and striking out four without issuing a walk.
“She’s really starting to come into her own and hitting spots. Whatever pitch and location is called, she’s doing a really good job of hitting them lately,” Ryver said.
The Lady Panthers improved to 6-3 and will play at Ripley, Ohio on Monday.
“If you would have told us we would start out 6-3, I’d tell you I appreciate your optimism,” Ryver said. “The girls are coming together and really working hard and they’ve realized we don’t have a Megan (Claypoole) or Tori (Ishmael) to rely on anymore.”
The Lady Royals were led by Huber at the plate with two hits and scoring a run. Kyndal Dotson drove in the lone Lady Royals run while Lexy Cooper and Shelby Thompson also collected hits. Cooper took the loss in the circle, allowing 13 hits, 11 runs and striking out three.
“I really don’t feel like the score dictated the way we played today. I really didn’t feel like we played that bad, we made a couple errors, but I really do feel like we played a little better today,” Sapp said.
Mason County returns to action Saturday when they play at Greenup County in a doubleheader starting at 11 a.m. The loss dropped them to 2-11 on the season.
“I really think like if we played the way we did today, we can compete,” Sapp said.
3B- (FC) Perkins
HR- (FC) Fern
RBI- (MC) Huber (FC) Fern 3, Price 2, Perkins, Stacey, Sergent
LOB- (MC) 3, (FC) 6
WP- Price. LP-Cooper.
Records: Mason County 2-11, Fleming County 6-3