Front-running Ladybirds shell Hunt to clinch tie for Big East title

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The late-season battle is for second place in the 3-A Big East Conference varsity softball race.

Host Southern Nash emphatically placed its stamp as the league’s 2019 queen with a 19-4 shellacking of second-place Hunt on a cold, blustery Monday evening.

The contest was halted after the Lady Warriors’ at-bat in the top of the fifth inning because of the mercy rule. Hunt lost at home, 14-6, to the Ladybirds on March 26.

The 2019 outright champion has yet to be decided but Southern Nash, the defending champion, clinched no worse than a tie with its 10th consecutive win. The Ladybirds emerged 8-0 in the conference with two games remaining and stand 13-2 against all foes.

Hunt departed 5-2 in the Big East and 8-6 overall.

Southern Nash shelled three Hunt pitchers for uprisings of at least four runs in all four at-bats and, in the circle, junior right-hander Carrigan Ewers, despite spotty control, limited the Lady Warriors to three hits. Two of those hits came in the fifth — when Hunt plated two runs. Ewers (8-2) walked four and struck out nine.

“We did a good job of coming out, being aggressive, putting balls in play and putting pressure on them,” assessed Ladybirds head coach Scott Collie.

Head coach Miguel Hall described Hunt’s performance as “embarrassing.”

“There’s no way they are (15) runs better,” Hall declared. “We didn’t come to play. When you don’t prepare and come out looking at the lights, you get beat (15) runs.

“This is embarrassing, very embarrassing. We got intimidated by (Ewers’) pitches. We got 14 hits against her the first time and, tonight, it was like we can’t hit, we can’t see it.”

Junior catcher Elisabeth Collie and Ewers collected Southern Nash’s only hits in the four-run first — when Hunt committed three errors.

The four-run second featured Ewers’ fourth 2019 home run, a three-run blast over the left-field fence and far into the night. Collie, first baseman Kierstin Cooper and Anna Strickland each singled as Lady Warriors’ right-hander Brittany Glover relieved starting right-hander Skylar Yarolin.

“The top of the first inning (when Hunt junior speedster Brianna Tucker was thrown at at second base on a steal attempt) was big,” Collie contended. “That just doesn’t happen. And Carrigan’s home run was huge.”

Left fielder Alexa Daniels, Alissa Bailey, Collie, third baseman Ricki Bartley and Taylor Bailey all singled in the seven-run third. Kelsey Bryant rapped a two-run double.

The only hit in the fourth was Alissa Bailey’s RBI single.

Ewers drove in four runs, while Alissa Bailey and Bartley each had three RBIs.

Of her homer, Ewers responded; “I was so happy. My first at-bat, I was way in front of (the pitch). I was ready for it. Coach told my to stay back, and I was prepared to wait on it and explode through it.”

However, Ewers evaluated that she did not pitch her best.

“Mechanically, I am off a little,” she explained. I have to work on a few little things; but little things make a big difference, and that frustrates me so much.”

Collie admitted Ewers battled her control, but commended her ability to find herself and make pitches when absolutely necessary.

Hunt scored two runs in each of the third and fifth innings. Tucker laced an RBI single in the third. In the fifth, catcher Faith Matthews doubled and third baseman Allyson Matthews banged out an RBI single.

Hunt was missing starting left fielder Hannah Williams because of a concussion and the Ladybirds exploited her absence.

“To be good, we’ve got to have everybody there,” Hall said.

Score by innings:

Hunt 002 02 4

Southern Nash 447 4x 19

WP-Carrigan Ewers (8-2) 5 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 9 SO. LP-Skylar Yarolin  1 IP, 2 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 0 SO.

LEADING HITTERS — Hunt: Brianna Tucker 1-1, 2 R, RBI; Faith Matthews 1-3, 2B, RBI; Allyson Matthews 1-3, RBI; Southern Nash: Carrigan Ewers 2-2, HR, 4 RBI, 4 R; Elisabeth Collie 3-4, 2 RBI, 2 R; Alissa Bailey l2-3, 3 RBI, 2 R; Taylor Bailey 1-2, 3 R, RBI; Kelsey Bryant 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R; Ricki Bartley l-4, 3 RBI.