Raceland’s eight-game softball winning streak hit a snag Tuesday night.
Lawrence County, one of the top teams in the 15th Region, stopped the Lady Rams 5-3 thanks to Samantha Fitzpatrick’s pitching and hitting, plus a key call in the Lady Bulldogs’ favor.
Fitzpatrick continued to exhibit outstanding control as she walked nobody while tossing a six-hitter.
“She’s crafty,” Raceland coach Shawn Johnson said. “She changes speeds, hits her spots and keeps the ball down in the strike zone.”
The junior left-hander didn’t have a clue she was facing a team on an eight-game roll. The Lady Rams averaged 9.4 runs during that stretch.
“I don’t look on the computer,” Fitzpatrick said. “I just come out and play with fire to get the win. This one was a good battle.”
The game went to the seventh inning even at 3-3. Lawrence County’s Savannah Cyrus opened it with an infield single and stole second. Addison Frazier followed by slapping a soft grounder down the third base line. Third baseman Chloe Adkins pulled away without touching the ball, which rolled past the bag in foul territory but was ruled fair by the home plate umpire.
Cyrus stopped at third, while Frazier cruised into second with a double. Kristin Caudill hit a sacrifice fly to deliver the tie-breaking run and Fitzpatrick grounded a pitch into right field to plate an insurance run.
“That was a big play,” Johnson said of the ruling. “I asked the umpire if our third baseman touched the ball. He said no. I told him, then it was clearly foul.”
In the next breath, Johnson chalked it up as an unfortunate incident for the Lady Rams.
This is a game where we (coaches) don’t always call the right pitch,” he said. “It’s a game where players make errors. The play came at a crucial juncture, and we don’t have instant replay. These are things you have to accept and move on. Everybody out there is human.”
Fitzpatrick closed it out for Lawrence County by retiring three of four batters in the bottom of the seventh.
Catcher Allie Marcum made a diving catch in front of the plate for the second out. Seventh-grader Morgan Curley kept Raceland’s hopes alive with an infield single for her second hit of the night, but Fitzpatrick got the next batter on a groundout.
“Raceland has been playing well,” Lawrence County coach Kenny Horn said. “No discredit to the 15th Region, but anytime one of our teams can come down in the 16th Region beat this kind of team, it’s a good win.”
The Lady Bulldogs lead the 15th Region with 18 wins overall and have defeated most of the top teams in the 16th this season.
Raceland (13-9) took a 3-2 lead in the fifth on alert baserunning from seventh-grader Madison Johnson, who singled up the middle and moved around to third on a groundout and wild pitch. Fitzpatrick struck out Taylor Podunavac swinging, but the ball popped out of the catcher’s glove. During the throw to first to record the second out, Johnson raced home and was safe on a close play.
Not to be outdone, Fitzpatrick doubled to start the sixth inning and Michaela Horn followed with a run-scoring single.
“Samantha has pitched great all season and really swings the bat,” Lawrence County’s coach said.
Caudill, a Shawnee State University signee, singled in her first two at bats. The Lady Bulldogs scored twice in the first inning, aided by a Raceland error.
Kenny Horn credited varsity assistants Joey Hardin, T.J. Caudill and Marty Peck, along with JV coaches Carlo Marcum, Todd Frazier and Dennis Bowen for playing major roles in the team’s success in his first season as head coach. Horn suffered a broken neck in January and said his staff has been the biggest part of the program’s turnaround from a year ago.
“Their work ethic and dedication has been second to none,” Horn said.
Fitzpatrick retired the first 10 Raceland batters before Savannah Mackie doubled in the fourth. Bre Grubb singled Mackie home and later scored herself on a throwing error.
LAWRENCE CO. 200 001 2 — 5 9 1
RACELAND 000 210 0 — 3 6 1
Fitzpatrick and Marcum; Diller and Curley. W—Fitzpatrick. L—Diller. 2B—Fitzpatrick (LC), Frazier (LC), Mackie (R), Adkins (R).