For the last couple of weeks Bradley Central softball coaches have been emphasizing “stepping to the ball and driving it.”
The Bearettes are listening, exploding for 11 hits in an 8-4 victory over crosstown rival Cleveland Thursday evening at Bob McKenzie Field.
“We’ve been working to get the girls to bat like we want them too. When they do that, we can play with anybody,” declared Bradley assistant coach Terry McElhaney. “We won the Meigs County Tournament, took a couple days off and then got right back at it and have been playing well.”
“We are believing in ourselves,” he added. “We’re being aggressive and have gotten our minds ready to play.”
After falling behind by a couple of runs, the Bearettes evened the game by scoring twice in the third, then added two more in the fourth and a 4-spot in the fifth that put the game away.
“We started out a little flat, but then we got the train going,” McElhaney expressed.
Cleveland (8-10, 0-7 District 5-AAA) struck first as Brittany Arnold opened the top of the second with a single, moved up on a passed ball and came around to score when Nanea Haruo sent a rocket that tipped off the Bearette third baseman’s glove for a double.
Another leadoff single came in the third inning when Kelli Bledsoe reached on a bunt, then stole second and third before scoring a Lady Raider run when Jacora Parker doubled.
Bradley (5-6, 1-3) answered in the bottom of the frame when Baylee Carroll doubled home Courtney Webb and Meghan Ward scored on a wild pitch.
After Bearette hurler Allison Conley set the visitors down in order in the top of the fourth, the Bradley bats cranked back up with back-to-back singles by Tori Roberts and Vontres Morrison to lead off the bottom of the frame. The pair circled the bases when Darla Herron cranked a one-out double a few moments later.
Cleveland trimmed the deficit to a single run when Yoshi Hooks led off the fifth with a single and courtesy runner Taylor Yoder scored when Arnold singled and then took second on the throw in from the outfield.
The Bearettes opened the bottom of the frame with three straight singles by Ward, Carroll and Grady, the latter of which plated a run. The second run scored on a groundout by Roberts before Harrison blasted a triple to plate the third run. Harrison scampered home on a wild pitch to complete the four-run rally.
The Lady Raiders scored another solo run in the sixth as Haruo led off with a single, was sacrificed to second, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a squeeze bunt by Carly Frost.
Cleveland got a pair of runners on in the seventh frame, including a double by Abi Dye, but left both stranded when the final out was recorded.
The Lady Raiders had nine hits, but left seven runners on base. “That tells the story right there,” commented Cleveland coach Connie Stobert. “Our hitting has been good this year, we’re hitting around .300 as a team, but our defense got us in trouble. We made some mental mistakes. This has been a roller coaster year.”
Both teams had three players with two hits apiece — Arnold, Haruo and Bledsoe for Cleveland, plus Herron, Carroll and Morrison for Bradley.
Both teams are in Soddy-Daisy today and tomorrow for the Lady Trojan Invitational.
The Bearettes took the field this morning against Chattanooga Central and Whitwell, plus a 1 p.m. game against Knoxville Karns.
The Lady Raiders will play this evening beginning at 6 against Ballard, Ky., Morristown-East and Sequatchie County.
After today’s pool play, the bracket portion of the tournament will take place Saturday.
BEARETTES 8, LADY RAIDERS 4
Cleveland 011 011 0 — 4 9 1
Bradley Central 002 240 x — 8 11 1
WP: Allison Conley 6.0 IP, 6 Ks, 9 H, 1 BB, 4 ER. LP: Yoshi Hooks 4.0 IP, 4 Ks, 8 H, 1 HBP, 6 ER. 3B: Vontres Morrison (BC). 2B: Nanea Haruo, Jacora Parker, Abi Dye (C); Baylee Carroll, Darla Herron, (BC). RBIs: Haruo, Parker, Carly Frost (C); Herron 2, Carroll, Chanler Grady, Tori Roberts, Morrison. Highlights: Brittany Arnold 2-for-3, BB, r; Haruo 2-for-3, 2B, r; Karli Bledsoe 2-for-3, 2 SB, r (C); Herron 2-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Carroll 2-for-4, 2B, RBI, 2 r; Morrison 2-for-3, 3B, RBI, 2 r (BC). Records: Cleveland 8-10, 0-7 District 5-AAA; Bradley Central 5-6, 1-3 District 5-AAA.