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The Henry County Lady Cats hosted the Walton-Verona Bearcats on May 24 and came away with a 2-1 win that was not decided until the final out of the game. The Lady Cats’ Aly Stanley played a big role on the mound and at the plate as she scored the winning run in the fifth inning after getting a base hit and stealing second and third, then coming in on a hit by Paige DeBurger. Stanly went the distance on the mound, giving up six hits, four walks and striking out six. The Bearcats only run came in the seventh inning and was unearned.
Katie James scored the game’s first run when she got an infield hit, stole second, then advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Madison Rabourn before coming home on a groundout by Shelby Ray.
Neither team threatened to score until the Cats’ Stanley got on in the fifth and stole two bases. After DeBurger scored, Stanley and Mikaela Cline singled and the Cats looked like they were going to have a big inning but the Bearcats’ pitcher settled down and got out of the inning without further damage.
Walton loaded the bases in the top of the sixth with one out. The Cats got a break when Walton attempted to score on a passed ball that did not get far enough away for Henry County catcher Kelsey Skaggs who recovered the ball and rushed back to the plate to tag out the onrushing runner. DeBurger recorded the final out by catching a pop up in foul territory.
The Cats went down in order in the bottom of the sixth and Walton came to bat one final time for a chance to steal the victory away from the Cats. The Bearcats’ first batter singled to centerfield but was thrown out trying reach second by James who had briefly bobbled the ball.
Walton’s next batter reached on an error and advanced to second when the throw went into the visitor’s dugout. Stanley struck out the next batter for the second out of the inning before a single to centerfield scored Walton’s first run. The Walton runner advanced to second on the throw home giving them the tying run in scoring position. But the next batter grounded out shortstop Mikaela Cline giving the Lady Cats their first victory of the season after losing to Sacred Heart in their opener.
“I was pleased with how we executed in this game,” Coach Jon Kasten said. “We were able to get bunts down when we needed to and that allowed us to plate our first run. They have a very good pitcher and we needed to play more “small ball” and were able to get the win. I thought our defense really stepped up and helped Aly in this game.”
HCHS 11 Vernon Hills 7
After having their game against Franklin County snowed out on Tuesday, Mar. 25, the Cats got an opportunity to play Vernon Hills High School of Illinois at Franklin County on Wednesday and came out the winner in a slugfest.
Henry County pounded out 14 hits and reached base a total of 20 times in getting a win that was starkly different from their first one.
Stanley had trouble on the mound for the first time this year but made up for it at the plate by smacking four hits, scoring two runs and collecting two RBIs. She also had a stolen base.
The Cats got down in the first inning when Vernon Hills scored three runs but came back to score four in the second and never trailed again. They increased their lead to 6-3 by scoring single runs in the third and fourth innings before Vernon Hills closed to within one again with two runs in the bottom of the fourth.
The Lady Cats scored two more in the top of the fifth only to see their opponents close the gap to one with two in the bottom of the sixth. The Lady Cats plated three more runs in the seventh before closing out the game with a clean bottom half of the inning.
Olivia Whaley and James also had good games at the plate. Whaley went three for five with four RBIs and a run scored while James also went three for five and scored three runs with two RBIs. Whaley’s offensive outburst included a two-run triple in the second that put the Lady Cats ahead for good. Cheyenne Clark went a perfect two for two and scored two runs.
“Our bats finally came to life a little bit,” Kasten said. “Aly struggled on the mound but made up for it with her hits. She and Olivia hit the ball very hard every time up. Kat (James) did a good job in the lead off spot. I like her in that spot if she can continue to get on so that Aly, Olivia and Mikaela will have a runner on when they come up to bat.”
Kasten was not as excited about the team’s defensive game that saw the Cats make three errors, two of which came in the sixth inning.
“I thought we played much better offensively than we have been, but we could have had a better defensive game,” he said. “The sixth inning was a struggle for us. We still need to put a whole seven innings together.”
HCHS 21 EHS 1
The Lady Cats were back in action on Thursday night when they hosted the Eminence Warriors. The Lady Cats’ hot hitting continued as Mikaeala Cline smacked a three-run home run and Haley Miles had an RBI triple to lead the offensive assault.
Marissa Puckett got the Warriors’ only hit and scored their only run in the first inning.
The Lady Cats pounded out 10 hits and took advantage of 12 walks to score their 21 runs. Paige DeBurger got her first start on the mound and struck out five while walking none.