Shayla Greer’s first at-bat in three weeks went a long way toward ending 11 years’ worth of East Carter frustration.
The Lady Raiders’ junior right fielder, who had been out of the lineup sick, homered in the third inning of East Carter’s game at Boyd County on Thursday. Montana Fouts and her defense then escaped jams in the fifth and sixth innings to preserve a 1-0 victory.
The Lady Raiders ended a 10-game losing streak in the series, including last year’s 16th Region Tournament quarterfinals, when the Lady Lions won, 12-2. Thursday’s victory was East Carter’s first against the Lady Lions since 2003 — when East Carter’s senior class was in first grade.
“We’ve been beat by them a lot,” Greer said. “Especially in region last year, it was a hard loss, and we just wanted to come out and play our hardest and prove that we weren’t to be overlooked.”
Little chance of that. The Lady Raiders improved to 24-5 with the win, finally beating one of the acknowledged region elite after losing to Ashland twice by a combined three runs.
“That’s where we want to be,” East Carter coach Derek Calhoun said. “Ashland, Boyd, we want our program in that status, and to do that, pitching and defense is what we’ve stressed all year we want to key on.”
Both teams got plenty of that. Boyd County’s Lora Thompson limited East Carter to three hits and was still saddled with the loss. She fanned nine Lady Raiders and walked two.
Fouts yielded five hits, struck out eight and issued one walk.
Thompson’s only bad mistake was leaving a pitch high to Greer, the Lady Raiders’ No. 9 hitter, with one out in the third inning. Greer hit a no-doubt liner over the left-center field fence.
“I was just kinda wanting to do anything,” Greer said of her plate approach. “Just have fun, and just relax, and don’t put too much pressure on myself.”
Added Calhoun: “I tell you what, she was only 1-for-3, but the other two balls were pretty well-hit balls. That speaks volumes for the caliber player she is, and she’s gonna be a big help here down the stretch for us to make a push for district and region.”
East Carter only got three runners into scoring position after that, and none to third base.
The Lady Lions (16-11), meanwhile, had opportunities to scratch one across in the fifth and sixth innings.
Boyd County had courtesy runner Maddie Hale on third base and pinch runner Ashton Rankin at second with two outs in the fifth, but Fouts struck out Alex Meade.
One frame later, Houston Reeves and Taylor Wheeler opened the bottom of the sixth with back-to-back singles. Kenzi Martin followed with a ground ball to the left side, but Reeves and East Carter shortstop Whitney Hall collided and Reeves was called out for interference.
Boyd County coach Geoff Stewart weighed the merits of bunting versus swinging away with Martin, his No. 3 hitter.
“Kenzi’s such a good hitter, and I feel like she can come up with a big hit at any time,” Stewart said. “Should I have bunted? Probably, because she is a very good bunter, but that’s beside the point. If we get in that situation again, we might put it down. Maybe not. I’ve got some girls that can hit the ball.”
Boyd County still had two on with one out, but Bri Crooks hit into a fielder’s choice and Wheeler was erased at third, and Destiny Goins was called out on strikes to end the Lady Lions’ big chance.
“When we did get runners on, we did a poor job of moving them up,” Stewart said. “You hit back to the (left) side, it’s an easy out at third. You can’t do that. You’ve gotta work hard and try to get the ball hit to the other side.”
Fouts retired the side 1-2-3 in the seventh to finish off the shutout.
Calhoun praised his players’ poise in defusing Boyd County’s late threats. And he knows this win will solidify the Lady Raiders’ spot on the region’s radar.
“We got mercyed last year in the region tournament against Boyd, and here we got a 1-0 win, and these girls have worked their butts off,” Calhoun said. “They were tied of being just a win on the schedule for everybody. Now, everybody’s looking at East Carter and thinking, ‘Well, we’re gonna have to come play ball or we’re gonna get beat.’”
Reeves was the only player with a multi-hit night, going 2-for-3.
E. CARTER 001 000 0 — 1 3 0
BOYD CO. 000 000 0 — 0 5 1
Fouts and Green; Thompson and Goins. W — Fouts. L — Thompson. 2B — Wiler (EC). HR — Greer (EC).
ZACK KLEMME can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2658.