For The Independent
Whether in, out, up or down, Raceland’s Kelsey Diller hit Morgan Curley’s target with near perfection.
“Kelsey understands that she is not a power pitcher, and that she is not going to strike out 10 a game,” said Raceland coach Shawn Johnson. “Once a pitcher realizes that and starts working on different pitches and hitting spots, they can become good pitchers, and Kelsey is a very good high school pitcher.”
Her well-placed pitches not only kept the Fairview hitters guessing, but also helped the Lady Rams defeat the Lady Eagles, 7-0, in the 16th Region All “A” Classic championship on Thursday night at Raceland-Worthington High School. Fairview secures a spot in the All “A” State Tournament later this month.
Diller surrendered just one hit and issued one free pass in her seven innings of work. Fairview’s only two other baserunners reached via Raceland fielding miscues.
Madison Kirk recorded the only hit for the Lady Eagles, a sharp single to left field in the top of the second.
“(Diller) was out there battling and hitting her spots,” Johnson said. “She changed really well. The middle of their order was able to hit the ball hard, but they only got one hit, and they have some really nice hitters.”
“We had a tough time getting people on,” Fairview coach Lauren Ellis said. “When we did get them on, we didn’t do the job at the plate to get them around.”
The Lady Rams (7-3) brought their first runner around in the third inning thanks to a double by Kymbria Williams.
However, the fourth inning is when Raceland did the majority of its damage.
A fortuitous bounce helped get the Lady Rams off to a nice start. Makenna Weaver appeared to strike out swinging to begin the frame, but the ball grazed the dirt before finding Kirk’s catcher’s mitt. Not realizing the ball had in fact touched the ground, Fairview began to throw the ball around the horn. Weaver, who didn’t what had happened either, nearly walked to the dugout before coach Johnson implored her to run to first base where she was ruled safe.
Weaver was just one of four Lady Rams to score in the inning. Savannah Mackie plated a pair of runs in the inning with an RBI single.
“We caught a break there on the strike three. It hit the dirt and, even though it was a clean catch, you still have the throw the runner out at first,” Johnson said. “When they threw it to third, the first baseman comes in and all of the sudden there was chaos. Our kid is trotting to first, then she starts sprinting. It just kind of snowballed.”
Ellis felt like the small miscue was tough for her team to overcome mentally.
“We gave up in the fourth,” she said. “We hit a tough spot and they scored a couple runs on us and we just died. The officials got the call right. But emotionally for us things just went from bad to worse after that.”
Raceland added a pair of insurance runs in the sixth inning thanks to an RBI double by Madison Johnson and a Mackie RBI single.
Mackie and Taylor Podunavac finished with two hits apiece for Raceland.
FAIRVIEW 000 000 0 — 0 1 2
RACELAND 001 402 x — 7 7 2
Thompson and Kirk; Diller and Curley. W—Diller. L—Curley. 2B—Johnson (R), Williams (R).