Times Sports Staff
The early season has been a learning experience for the Lady Pirates softball team. While trying to get comfortable with new positions and regaining confidence at the plate, Powell has hit a few rough patches. But the first seven games have been played in March and there is time to learn.
Powell opened the season 2-2 and played three times in the final week of March. They came up short in each game, but a steady improvement could be seen on defense while confidence with the bats is slowly getting better. Powell lost close contests with Bath County, Leslie County and Paintsville.
Last Tuesday night Powell hosted Bath County. The Lady Wildcats have pretty much had their way with Powell in recent years and was returning many of last year’s starters. But Powell’s defense played well enough to win, the offense sputtered.
The Lady Cats scattered 13 hits and picked a run in the second, third, fourth and seventh innings. Despite working the bases full on two occasions and having runners in scoring positions in just bout each inning, Powell’s defense and key strike outs by Lexie Brewer, kept Powell in the game.
Powell scored their only run in the fourth. Trailing 3-0, Erika Howard drilled a double to center field. Following quick fly out to left, Lindsey Willoughby busted a double to center, scoring Howard. But that was all the offense Powell could muster. Bath won a close one, 4-1.
Powell took to the road for the first time last Friday to play in the 2nd Annual Game On! KY Classic at Breathitt County. The Lady Pirates played Leslie County in the first game, in a rematch of sorts of last year’s 14th Region first round game. Leslie won that game, 10-9.
The two teams looked a bit rusty early on in this matchup, but Leslie finally got their bats going. The Lady Eagles scored a run in the second inning and aded another one in the third. Leading 2-0, Leslie took advantage of a single, double, a walk and an error to push across four more runs in the fourth inning. The Lady Eagles led 6-0 and coasted to the win.
Powell’s defense played well but Leslie’s ability to take advantage of a bad inning and the Lady Pirates bats being silent, sealed the win. Powell was held to three hits, all singles by Olivia Nickell, Makayla Rucker and Chloe Billings. Leslie managed seven hits in the game. One bright spot for Powell was that eighth grader Kelly Bloom took to the mound to give Lexie Brewer a break before a second game. Bloom did not give up a run, walked one and struck out two in her first varsity pitching appearance.
The nightcap last Friday pitted Powell against Powell. The Lady Tigers scored in the top of the first, but Powell answered in the third.
Haleigh Bauer reached base on a one out error and stole second base. Nickell singled to left to move Bauer to third. Howard then singled to right to score Bauer and tied the game a 1-1.
The scored remained that way until Paintsville’s half of the fifth inning. Using some small ball, the Lady Tigers picked up a couple of hits and utilized the bunt to force Powell’s defense into an error. Before the Lady Pirates could stop the strategy, Paintsville had a 4-1 lead.
Paintsville added another run in the fifth and in the sixth innings, once again using the bunt to achieve their goal of getting runners on base. Powell did manage to score another run in their half of the sixth.
With one out Nellie Noble crushed a shot into the wind to deep center field that hit the bottom of the fence for a double. Noble moved to third as Brewer reached base on an error and scored on a wild pitch. Despite the fact that Powell was hitting better in the game, Paintsville held on for the 6-2 win.
Nickell, who had been struggling, led the Lady Pirates with a 3-for-4 performance. Howard was 2-for-4 and had an RBI. Bauer, Brewer and Noble each had a hit as Powell picked up eight hits in the game. Powell fell to 2-5.
The Lady Pirates took the week off for Spring Break and will return to action next Tuesday when they travel to Irvine to play Estill County. They will hit the road again next Wednesday to play Breathitt County before returning home on April 17 to play Nicholas County.