For The Independent
Mallory Powell proved that the sequel can be as successful as the original on Monday night.
After pitching a no-hitter earlier this season against Ashland, the junior hurler gave another four-star performance as she outdueled Kittens ace Megan Hensley. Powell threw a four-hit complete game as Russell beat Ashland, 4-1, at Russell High School.
“They’ve always been our rivals so it’s always good to beat them,” said Powell.
Inspired by the movie ”42” in the earlier matchup, Powell called upon a different sports flick for inspiration this time around.
“I watched ‘A League of Their Own’ last night,” claimed Powell. “Like I said last time, I watched the movie ‘42’ and these movies give me a lot of confidence.”
The script was different this time around for Powell as it was her bat that played a bigger role. She drove in three runs with a towering home run in the sixth inning. Her stat-stuffing effort also included 12 strikeouts and no free passes.
The Lady Devils succeeded in doing what most hitters are not able to do against Hensley: Get on base.
“We have really worked and we were prepared for her,” said Russell coach Ron Osborn. “We faced her earlier this season and she kept us off the bases. Megan is a smart pitcher and she throws good stuff.”
Russell had at least one baserunner in every inning while collecting nine hits.
Senior Sydney Watkins reached base four times while going 3-for-3 and scored a run. Sara Hieneman was also busy on the base paths as she reached in each of her three at-bats. The eighth-grader collected two hits and a base on balls.
The Lady Devils (12-13) managed to move a runner to third base in the first four innings but could not find the hit to send them to the plate.
Until the fifth.
Cassie Fultz led off the inning with a single that bounced over the shortstop. She later scored the first run of the game on a double off the center-field wall by Emma Ison.
Russell added three more runs in the sixth. After Hope Parsley singled and Hieneman reached on a walk, Powell drilled an opposite-field homer over the right-field fence.
Ashland (19-9) was without the services of center fielder Sydney Whitt. The junior suffered a knee injury Saturday in Lexington.
The Kittens managed to avoid the shutout on a Hayley Kilburn home run in its final at-bat. It was Ashland’s 30th of the season and the Kittens are now one shy of the Kentucky high school record, according to KHSAA.
Ashland coach Dave Miller was left wondering about his team’s motivation, especially during a rivalry game.
“They were able to get a couple of things done that we weren’t,” said Miller. “We have been swinging the bat really good lately. We didn’t seem to have a fire in our belly and that’s disappointing. Russell did a good job with Megan and put a lot of balls in play, but Megan battled well and pitched out of some jams.”
Russell has won three of its last four. Osborn hopes that sweeping the season series from their rival can give the Lady Devils some much needed momentum heading into the postseason.
“They are on cloud nine right now,” said Osborn. “We are looking forward to the district tournament and see what kind of damage we can do there.”
Russell is back on the field tonight at home against Johnson Central. Ashland is at Lawrence County.
ASHLAND 000 000 1 — 1 4 0
RUSSELL 000 013 X — 4 9 3
Hensley and Campbell; Powell and A. Gross. WP - Powell (R) LP - Hensley (A). 2B - Watkins (R), Ison (R), Hieneman (R) HR - Powell (R), Kilburn (A).