The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

April 29, 2012

Francis, Falcons hammer Lakeside

Senior sets school record in wins

JEFFERSON — Normally, giving up four runs in the top of the first in the first game of a twinbill on a miserably cold spring day is enough to break a softball team’s back.

However, after spotting Lakeside four in the top of the first, Jefferson got angry. Then the Falcons got even with two lopsided victories, 17-6 and 22-0, Saturday at the JAGS Complex.

“I think that was pent up from yesterday,” Jefferson coach Nikki Rose said. “We didn’t get any games in this week and we lost 2-1 yesterday.

“No (I didn’t think the first inning was a bad sign),” Rose said. “I was thinking the girls were going to be really ticked off and were going to come back and hit the ball because of how it all went down (the four runs were made possible because Johnston’s single was ruled to have hit the ground before it was caught while the Falcons believed the ball was caught on the fly).

“It lit their fire. It wasn’t a downer, it was more of a pusher.”

Brianna Elliott opened that first game with a double and Krista Johnston followed with an infield single for the Dragons (4-15, 0-6 in Premier Athletic Conference). After a pop-up to the catcher, Koree Runyan was hit to load the bases and Rosie Messner singled to bring home Elliott and Johnston. A’Dria Mathers reached on an infield single and Brianna Leonard scored Messner and Runyan for a 4-0 Lakeside advantage.

“When you score four in the first, there’s not much more you can ask for,” Lakeside coach Kerri Weir said. “We just didn’t get it done on defense.”

Jefferson (13-6, 3-3 in All-American Conference) sent 15 batters, tallied 10 hits and scored 11 runs. The Dragons helped out a bit with four errors.

“The pitchers struggled and we couldn’t make a play behind her,” Weir said. “That makes for a long day.”

Rachel Francis opened the game with a triple, adding to the school record she set Friday night. She now has 13 triples, two ahead of Linda Licate and Ronda Carter.

Kailey Reinke followed with an RBI single. Molly Robinson singled in a run and doubled in another later in the inning, Bree Zalar, Deanna Comp and Megan Hussing all singled in a pair and McKenzie Wilber singled one in.

“I look at (being down, 4-0) as no pressure,” Rose said. “We’ve been doing comeback games.”

That was all the help winning pitcher Bailey Beckwith (6-3) needed. She struck out three and didn’t walk a batter in using the defense behind her.

The Falcons turned three double plays in the game.

In the second, Krista Johnston blasted a two-run homer to left-center for the Dragons’ final runs.

Sarah Busch singled home a run in the second for Jefferson and Francis set the school record for home runs with her own blast to left-center. She’s now hit eight homers to break a tie with Cheryl Hawk and her sister, Courtney, and had already held the single-season record for homers entering the season.

“(I didn’t find out until after the game) when my mom told me,” Francis said. “I guess it’s pretty cool, but I don’t overthink it too much.”

“We definitely gave out a lot of game balls today,” Rose said. “I was very happy for her.”

Wilber’s two-run double ended the game in the fifth.

Francis hit for the cycle in the contest.

Brianna Elliott (2-11) never made it out of the first inning and took the loss. Just five of the 10 runs scored against her were earned. She struck out one and walked one.

The momentum — good from the Falcons’ point of view and bad from the Dragons’ — carried over to the second game.

Eighteen Falcons went to the plate in the home half of the first accounting for 13 runs and 10 hits. Lakeside committed five errors in the inning, making just two of those runs earned.

“They hit the ball,” Weir said. “I give their hitters credit.”

After Francis reached on an error to open the gates, Reinke singled and Comp drove a ball over the left-center field fence for a three-run homer. Beckwith singled in a pair, Zalar doubled in two more, Busch brought one home on a sacrifice fly, Francis singled one in, Comp singled in two, Robinson singled in one and Wilber followed suit with her own RBI single.

Wilber (7-3) got the win on five innings of shutout ball. She allowed just five hits, fanned five and walked two.

“We put the bat on the ball,” Weir said. “Once again, we couldn’t get the clutch hit. We left We left a lot of runners on base.”

Jefferson sent 10 more hitters to the plate in the second. The Falcons netted seven runs on four hits and took advantage of two more errors.

Sarah Busch knocked in two with her first career homer, the fourth of the day clearing the fence in left-center, and Wilber singled in two. Hussing plated a pair with a two-base error and Beckwith brought in one when she reached on an error.

Busch doubled in a run and Wilber singled in another in the home half of the fourth.

Brianna Leonard (2-4) was the second Lakeside starter to not make it out of the first.

Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.

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