After falling behind 5-0, Greenup County coach Eric Keeton let his team know he wasn’t happy about its effort. The Lady Musketeers heard him loud and clear.
Greenup County scored eight unanswered runs on its way to defeating 63rd District rival Russell, 8-5, on Tuesday night at Greenup County High School.
After Russell built its lead to five in the fourth inning, Keeton stood with his team outside the dugout and said he didn’t want to get embarrassed.
He wasn’t surprised his team rebounded with a win.
“We were sort of lethargic at the beginning of the game and I had to get on them a little bit,” Keeton said. “But they responded and that’s what I like about this group of girls. You can get after a them a little bit and they stand up to the challenge.”
One of the main reasons Keeton was upset at his team was because of some crucial Lady Musketeers’ mistakes in the early going.
In the first inning, Russell leadoff batter Sydney Watkins was hit by a pitch and reached second on a sacrifice. She later scored on a fumbled fly ball in the outfield.
Russell added two in the third as two walked baserunners were chased home by a Hope Parsley double to the right-field gap.
The Lady Devils finished off their offensive production in the fourth, when they scored on another Greenup error and then on an Arden Gross run-scoring single.
Russell managed only one hit in the final three innings, though. Lady Devils coach Ron Osborn said it’s been a pattern all season.
“I don’t know what it is,” Osborn said. “It’s just like we die after a period of time and we can’t get back up. I don’t know what it is.”
Trailing 5-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth, Greenup County got two runs back from an unlikely source — No. 9 hitter, freshman Abby Sanders.
Sanders took a pitch from Russell ace Mallory Powell and drove it over the center-field fence for her first career home run.
“It didn’t feel real,” Sanders said of the two-run shot. “We needed to fight more, and give it our all. The home run pumped us up and we started to relax in the box a little bit more.”
After Sanders’ home run, the Lady Musketeers responded with a six-run fifth, roughing up Powell for seven hits.
Junior Andrea Dean started the inning off, plating one run on a single to get the Lady Musketeers up and running.
But once again it was Sanders who had the big hit, smacking a two-run single to center field that wound up scoring a third run after the center fielder bobbled the ball.
Then it was another freshman’s time to go deep, as Lexy Traylor took a pitch over the right-field fence to cap off the inning. By the last out, Greenup had sent 10 batters to the plate.
“I expect all of our girls to hit all the way through our lineup,” Keeton said. “We’ve got some young girls in the lineup because of injuries, and they’ve responded well. Powell does a great job and we got on her a little bit there in that one inning.”
Keeton said his team hasn’t seen a pitcher that throws as hard as Powell in the past few games and it showed in the first three innings. Powell had six strikeouts and allowed just three hits against the first 14 batters she faced.
But when Greenup County finally timed the hard-throwing Powell, Osborn knew his team was in trouble.
“They just teed off there,” Osborn said. “When they scored all those runs, we got back on our heels. It’s almost like we gave up.”
Heading into the last month of the season, the two district rivals are heading in opposite directions. Russell has lost four straight and seven of its last eight.
Greenup County, on the other hand, has won six of its last seven and avenged an earlier 1-0 loss to Russell.
Keeton is hoping the momentum carries into May and, more importantly, the postseason.
“You say you don’t want to peak early and I think our team is coming together,” he said. ”They’ve adjusted to the philosophy you have to play one position one game and another the next and now is the time to peak ... and this team keeps getting better as the year goes on.”
RUSSELL 102 200 0 — 5 7 2
GREENUP CO. 000 260 X — 8 14 2
Powell and A. Gross. Johnson and Howard. W — Johnson. L — Powell. 2B — Hieneman (R), Parsley (R), Mitchell (G). HR — Sanders (G), Traylor (G).