Home runs power Indians past Highland
By ROB HAMILTON
Not even the rain could stop Mount Gilead from putting on a power-hitting display when they hosted Highland in softball Wednesday.
In their 6–3 win, the Indians scored all their runs on a quarter of homers; the most important being a three-run blast by Caylor Arnold in the sixth inning that gave Mount Gilead insurance.
Not only did that shot improve their lead from 3–2 to a 6–2 margin, it also allowed them to hold on to their advantage after the Scots scored in the top of the seventh.
“Because of that seventh inning, those runs in the bottom of the sixth were huge,” said MG head coach Joe Ruhl. “She (Arnold) is one of the best players I’ve ever seen. I’d take her at the plate in that situation anytime.”
Mount Gilead’s first three batters in the bottom of the sixth all reached base to load them up with nobody out. Highland coach Tressa Ragor then replaced starting pitcher Shayla Pierce with Cassie Brown, who quickly induced a double play to put runners on second and third with two out.
The Scots would not be able to get out of the inning, as Arnold would then hit her second home run of the game to put her team up by four runs.
Highland attempted to fight back in the seventh, getting singles by Carrie Wright and Jessie Stewart to open the frame. With one out, Katie Johnson hit a sacrifice fly to bring in a run, but the Scots would not be able to add to that total as Mount Gilead won the game.
“Our girls came back and tried to get some hits in the seventh inning,” said Ragor. “We came out today and were swinging, but nothing was falling through.”
Ragor added that while her team did a good job of getting on base, they struggled to string hits together to put runs across the plate.
While the Indians might not have strung hits together for most of the game, the ones they did get tended to go a long way.
Makayla McAvoy put one out of the park to open the second inning, while Arnold hit her first of the contest in the third. Both were solo home runs, so the Indians were staked to a 2–0 lead.
McKenzi Rhodes responded with a home run in the top of the fourth. Then, in the fifth inning, with two outs and no one on, Stewart, McKenzi Rhodes and Johnson recorded three straight singles, with Johnson’s driving in Stewart to tie the score.
However, Indian pitcher Baylee Smith drove one out of the park in the bottom of the fifth to put the Indians back on top by one run. They would then follow with their big sixth inning to put the game away.
While Ruhl’s team had already clinched the Blue Division championship, he noted that his players have plenty of reasons to take their remaining regular season games seriously.
“We tell the kids that every win counts,” he said. “This was important because we have our seeding coming up and next week’s games are important to get ready for the tournament.”
Highland finished with nine hits in the contest, with Stewart, Rhodes and Johnson all having multiple base knocks. Rhodes added a home run, while Raychel Shaffer added a double. Pierce and Brown combined to strike out four and walk one.
The Indians finished with only five hits, but they all went for extra bases. Arnold had two home runs, while McAvoy had a home run and double. Smith also drove a pitch out of the park, while winning the game with five strikeouts and one walk.