Straughn opens season with rivalry win against Red Level

Published 11:00 am Thursday, February 29, 2024

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Straughn began the season later than usual but saw the wait worthwhile and picked up an 8-2 win over Red Level in varsity softball action on Tuesday, Feb. 27.

Straughn starts the year with a 1-0 record, while Red Level drops to 3-3 on the season.

Greer Meeks and Kennedy Lord earned back-to-back walks in the top of the first. McKena Bailey thwarted the early threat with a pair of groundouts and a pop-up. Caroline Blackwell got off to a strong start with two straight strikeouts in the home half before Maddie Williamson reached on an infield single. Blackwell then recorded a pop-up and kept the game scoreless after one inning.

Blackwell lined a leadoff single in the visiting second as courtesy runner Breanna Carroll advanced to third on a two-out double from Kayden Lord. Bailey came up big yet again with a fly out to right. McKenzie Castleberry reached on an error and stole second, but Blackwell brought the heat with three straight strikeouts for a scoreless battle with two innings in the books.

Bailey Green began a two-out rally in the top of the third with a single to center. Payten Martin followed with a double to left, but Bailey held Red Level in check for the third straight frame. Blakeley Smith opened the bottom half with a walk and took second on a passed ball. Allyx Williamson then took first on an error that allowed Smith to score the first run. Maddie Williamson extended the score to 2-0 with an RBI single and drove home A. Williamson. M. Williamson stole second and gave Straughn a 3-0 lead when Kyleigh Bennett ripped an RBI double into left. Blackwell battled back with a fly out and strikeout as the score remained 3-0 at the end of three.

Keā€™Mariah Crittenden delivered a leadoff double in the visiting fourth. Red Level was unable to cash in the two-bagger after Bailey induced a 6-3-5 double play and hung another zero on the scoreboard. Adelaide Dunn reached first off an error that led off the bottom half. Logan Parrish moved Dunn to second on a sacrifice bunt. Smith took advantage of another defensive mistake and swapped places with Dunn who scored the fourth run. Another error allowed A. Williamson to reach and sent Smith to the plate as Straughn maintained a 5-0 cushion with four innings completed.

Kennedy Lord and Amaya Williams both led off the fifth with a single. Bailey Green hit a short grounder in front of the plate and advanced both runners up 60 feet. Following a strikeout, Blackwell struck gold with a two-run single into right and drew Red Level within 5-2 when Lord and Williams scored. Bennett began the home frame with a solo homer to center before Castleberry singled through the right side and eventually crossed home. Dunn kept the Straughn hit parade going and reached scoring position but was unable to score leaving the score 7-2 after five.

A pitch hit Zoey Phillips in the top of the sixth, but Bailey retired the next three batters in order. A. Williamson earned a one-out double in the bottom of the frame and scored on a two-out RBI single from her sister M. Williamson. Bennett then laced her third hit of the night, and a pitch hit Castleberry. Courtesy runner Alcee Radford entered the game at first as Blackwell left the bases loaded and sent the game to the seventh with the score 8-2.

Martin kept the game alive with a two-out single in the final inning, and Blackwell took a walk. Bailey struck out Crittenden to end the game.

Kayden Lord and Blackwell collected 2-for-3 showings for Red Level, while Martin finished 2-for-4. Blackwell allowed eight runs (six earned) on 10 hits with one walk and seven strikeouts in a complete-game effort.

Bennett and M. Williamson each went 3-for-4 with a run scored and two RBIs. Bailey earned the win and gave up two runs on nine hits with a walk and six strikeouts in seven innings.

Both teams are scheduled to compete in the 20th annual Kirsten L. Dean Memorial Tournament at Straughn on Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, weather permitting.