It just happened to be the game’s first pitch.
Science Hill’s Kasey Bennett blasted a leadoff home run, but Ferguson didn’t allow a hit the rest of the way. Boone later took advantage of Science Hill’s defensive miscues to earn a 4-1 win in a Big Seven Conference softball showdown at the Lady Trailblazers’ field.
Boone (38-5) took over sole possession of first place in the league with a mark of 8-1. Science Hill (25-7) fell into second place at 8-2.
NICKOLETTE WAS SHARP
Boone’s junior right-hander walked one and struck out eight. She said she had to regroup after Bennett’s homer.
“I did have regroup a little bit,” said Ferguson. “I was going out there to shut them down, but you’ve just got to go with the flow.
“And I have a strong defense behind me. I have faith in them to stick behind me, field the ball cleanly, and make plays.”
The Lady Trailblazers certainly did that, including a Jaycie Jenkins to Makenna Dance to Greyson Stevens double play to end the game.
“That’s what we pride ourselves in: defense,” said Boone head coach Jeremy Jenkins.
As for Ferguson, Jenkins said he liked her tenacity in the circle.
“She settled down and battled hard, and made the pitches when she had to,” said Jenkins.
THE KEY INNING
Trailing 1-0, Megan Ackerman led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a sharp single. She moved to third when Camryn Sarvis reached on an error. McKenna Dietz followed with a single to tie the game. She fouled off three pitches before delivering the hit.
“That was as good of an at-bat as we’ve had all year,” said Jenkins.
With two outs, Stevens was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Science Hill pitcher Sejal Neas appeared to limit the damage by inducing a ground ball off the bat of Dannah Persinger. But the throw to first was dropped and scooted away, allowing two runs to score to make it 3-1.
“Any time someone gives you an extra out, you’ve got to take advantage and make it hurt,” said Jenkins.
In the fifth inning, Boone added a run on a passed ball.
SCIENCE HILL’S TAKE
Science Hill head coach Jerry Higgins said he wasn’t pleased with his team’s defense.
“If we catch the ball, two thrown balls and two routine ground balls, we still have a chance to win 1-0,” Higgins said. “I am disappointed as I’ll get out. These are the two best teams in our league, and we just gave them the game. That’s very frustrating this late in the season. Game two, that’s probably OK. Game 34, it’s not acceptable.”
Neas not only got hit in the foot by a line drive, she was saddled with a hard-luck losing decision. She went the distance, allowing only four hits and one walk with four strikeouts.