May 9, 2012 — Morgan Jacobs was in the fifth grade the last time East Carter defeated West Carter in a varsity softball game.
Yet, now the East Carter freshman can check off beating West Carter on her softball to do list. Behind the seven-strikeout performance of the Lady Raider pitcher, East Carter grabbed a 4-1 home victory over the Lady Comets, ending a streak of 21 straight 62nd District wins for the team from Olive Hill.
“I definitely think beating them was important. Usually when we play them, we get down on ourselves and think we’re going to lose, but we didn’t do that today,” Jacobs said. “We were just tired of getting beat by them, so we stepped up our game.”
The Lady Raider victory also tied the two teams atop the district standings with identical 5-1 records.
That was part of the motivation for Derek Calhoun’s club.
“It was a huge factor. It’s been a couple of years since we beat them. Leatha (Reynolds) is a good pitcher, but she was not on today,” the East Carter coach said. “We showed we can play with them and now we know that we need to be ready for them (the next time we meet).”
The loss for West Carter marked the first time it had lost to the Lady Raiders since 2008, when the Lady Raiders captured a 4-0 victory in the district tournament.
“It was just an off day. We have those every so often. Leatha didn’t have her best game, but she still kept us in the game,” West Carter head coach Greg Reynolds said. “We’ll be ready for them if we meet them in the district (tournament).”
Both teams went down in order in the first inning and then scored a run in the second, but East Carter (18-6) took control for good with a two-run third that was enough to hold up for the victory.
“In the last couple of games, we haven’t had any timely hits,” Calhoun said. “Today we got runners on and moved them around. We got the big hits when we needed them and laid down bunts when we needed to, and we were able to come away with the win.”
Paige Tackett gave West Carter (10-7) the early lead when she led off the second with a single to right field.
Haleigh Hanshaw followed with a single just inside the right field line and a throwing error on the play allowed Tackett to score. Hanshaw worked her way around the bases before getting tagged out at the plate in a rundown.
Kayla Hall was able to score in East’s next at bat after a fielding error during Carley Marshall’s at bat.
Leatha Reynolds hit a two-out single in the top of the third, but was left stranded when the inning ended.
East Carter sent seven batters to the plate in the bottom of the frame, which began with an Alexis Pennington double to center field. After an error on a sacrifice bunt allowed Whitney Hall to reach base safely, Tori Qualls’s hit to shortstop drove in Pennington and a throwing error on the play also allowed Whitney Hall to come home.
Despite Hall and Qualls moving into scoring position, Reynolds settled down and induced the next three batters to commit outs.
With a two-run cushion, Jacobs did the rest.
Amber Thornsberry and Courtney Reynolds notched back-to-back singles to right field in the fifth, with an error on the latter play allowing both to move up a base.
But, Jacobs helped retire eight of the final nine Lady Comet batters to prevent a comeback.
“I worked around the plate. If they crowded the inside, I threw inside and when they moved outside, I went outside (to the opposite side),” she said. “I also threw my rise ball a couple of times. When they saw it come in, it (started to go) up and they swung under it.”
The Lady Raiders added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth. Whitney Hall led off with a double to left-center field and Qualls followed with an RBI single to center. A walk and a sacrifice bunt moved Qualls’ courtesy runner Eden Mayo to third, but the sixth-grader was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a squeeze bunt.
East Carter improved to 9-2 at home with the victory, marking the 11th time this season the club has held its opponent to one or fewer runs, while West Carter had its three-game win streak snapped.
West Carter actually out-hit the Lady Raiders six to four. Thornsberry led the way going 2-for-3 at the plate. Hanshaw, Tackett, Leatha Reynolds and Courtney Reynolds each added a hit. Tackett scored the team’s only run.
East Carter scattered its four hits among different players. Pennington, Qualls, Whitney Hall and Kayla Hall each had one apiece. Qualls finished with two RBI, while Whitney Hall scored two runs. Pennington and Hall also crossed home plate once apiece.
Jacobs went the distance to earn the win. The only run she allowed was unearned. She also did not walk a batter.
Leatha Reynolds pitched all six innings and gave up just two earned runs. She finished with eight strikeouts and three walks.
East Carter ends a four-game home stand on Friday when it hosts Pike County Central in a doubleheader.
West Carter hits the road once more as it travels to Fairview tomorrow evening.