Daniel Boone didn’t clinch the Big Eight Conference softball title on Friday, but it left Science Hill with a good grip on it.
Kayla Sanders homered, doubled and drove in three runs and McKenzi Ferguson and Jaclyn Jenkins combined for a shutout in the Lady Trailblazers’ 4-0 victory at Metro-Kiwanis Park.
Daniel Boone, which will host second-place Science Hill on Tuesday in both teams’ next league game, improved to 10-0 in the conference and 22-3 overall.
“It put us in good position,” Boone coach Rick Wagner said, “but by no means does it put us so far out ahead of everybody that we can’t be reached. … I’m glad with where we’re at. But the first time we come out and think we’ve got something won we’re gonna leave with our heads down and all of the sudden it’s a race again.”
Science Hill (9-2, 17-11) stranded nine runners and had two others thrown out on fly-outs to the outfield while losing control of its Big Eight destiny.
Boone’s first three batters began the game by loading the bases via two hit-batsmen and a walk. The Lady ‘Blazers scored a run in the first when Logan Fisher (Sanders’ courtesy runner) scored on Haley Wagner’s sacrifice fly.
The Lady Hilltoppers tried to follow suit with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the first, but Boone left fielder Jenna Carmody caught Emma Martindale’s relatively shallow fly ball in foul territory and threw out speedy Hannah Devotie sliding at the plate for an inning-ending double play.
Boone added two runs in the second when Sanders capped an 11-pitch at-bat with a home run to left field that scored Allison Littleton.
“I just was waiting for my pitch and she finally gave it to me,” Sanders said. “I didn’t even hit it that good. It just kind of happened in my favor, I guess.”
Science Hill couldn’t come through after loading the bases with one out in the fifth, and the Lady ‘Toppers had a runner get doubled off first base in the sixth after Allison Poget hit a fly ball to right field with runners at first and second and no outs.
“That was a pretty good at-bat, but then we make a base-running mistake,” Science Hill coach Jerry Higgins said. “We made too many mistakes. We start the game loading the bases with two hit batters and a walk. They just got one run, but still, that sets the tone. And then we load the bases and don’t score (in the first).
“If we get any kind of hit in any of three innings it’s probably a different game. But nobody stepped up and got that hit. We didn’t have many very good at-bats, not many at all.”
Ferguson (14-3) allowed seven hits, walked two batters and hit another in five-plus innings for the victory. The junior had three strikeouts.
Jenkins, a freshman, came on with runners at first and second and none out in the sixth and worked two perfect innings for her third save.
“McKenzi threw the ball well today and Jaclyn did a great job coming in for her,” Wagner said. “McKenzi threw the ball better today than I think she’s thrown it in a long time.”
Sanders went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs. She lined a one-out double to the right field fence to score Littleton in the fourth inning.
“We’ve kind of taken her out of her element in the three hole and put her at the leadoff spot,” Wagner said. “Not a lot of people can handle being leadoff. I don’t know why, but they can’t. But she’s done a great job. She’s taken walks. She’s hit for power. … Kayla’s been playing well all year.”
Hannah Montoya went 1-for-2 with a line-out. She walked and was hit by a pitch.
Littleton was 1-for-2 with a walk, two runs and two stolen bases. Jenkins was hit by a pitch twice.
Science Hill pitcher Vanessa Elliott struck out nine while pitching a five-hitter, but was done in by free passes (two walks, four hit-batsmen).
Megan Devotie was 3-for-4. Hannah Devotie was 2-for-4. Martindale and Alyssa Loveday also hit safely for the Lady ‘Toppers.
Science Hill and Boone will each play T.C. Roberson today at Metro-Kiwanis. Science Hill will play at 11 a.m., with the Lady Trailblazers’ game to follow.