For The Independent
Even a steady rain wasn't going to put a damper on Rilee Austin's pitching performance on Saturday night.
The young hurler battled the elements to pitch a complete game, helping the Raceland-Worthington 11-12-year-old softball All-Stars defeat Russell-Flatwoods, the Area 2 champs, 6-3 to force one more game for the District 6 title. The two will battle again today.
Austin recorded 14 strikeouts and only one free pass as Russell connected for just three hits through the raindrops.
“Rilee is our No. 1 pitcher we go to,” said Raceland coach Mark Yeager. “It seems like the rain doesn't bother her. She came through today.”
After a scoreless first inning, Raceland loaded the bases in the second. Jordan Cherry belted an RBI single to left field just past the glove of the second baseman, scoring Sydney Kozee from third.
Raceland stretched its lead to 3-0 in the third after Morgan Curley scored on a wild pitch and Emily Johnson was safe at the plate on a fielder's choice.
Russell closed the gap with two runs in the fifth inning, courtesy of four errors, before Raceland added three much-needed insurance runs in the sixth.
Curley dropped a single into left field sending Tiffany Gedeon home after she led off the sixth with a walk. Johnson sent the very next pitch to the wall in left center field that scored Katelyn Quillen and Curley.
Russell threatened in the bottom of the sixth. Emilee Hall tripled down the right-field line and eventually scored on a fielder's choice. Austin shut down any hopes of a comeback as she struck out the last batter.
Johnson went 3-for-4 with a couple of RBIs and scored a run for Raceland. Curley reached base four times with a single and three walks.
While Russell cruised through the Area 2 tournament without a defeat, Raceland had to win four straight games just to reach the district championship after dropping into the elimination bracket.
Trailing 10-9 in the Area 1 championship, Raceland was down to its final out against Morehead before the clouds opened and the game was halted in the fourth inning due to thunderstorms. Little League rules state that a game can be considered complete after four innings.
Play resumed the next evening and Raceland scored seven unanswered runs to win 16-10 and advance to the title game.
“We battled the whole tournament,” claimed a happy Yeager. “We had luck on our side with the weather. It’s my job to keep the girls from getting down. Its never over until the umpire says its over.”
The win sets up a winner-take-all championship game this afternoon at 4 at Raceland-Worthington High School softball field.
RACELAND 012 003 — 6 5 6
RUSSELL 000 021 — 3 3 1
Austin and Curley; Ratliff and Fraley WP—Austin. LP — Ratliff. 2B—Johnson (RW) 3B—E. Hall (RF).