Three Rivers played its first ranked team over the weekend, and results were mixed. The Raiders (16-1, 5-1 Region XVI) suffered their first loss of the season in Sunday's opener, losing to 17th-ranked Crowder 9-5, then won the nightcap 9-6. "We hadn't faced that kind of competition," Three Rivers coach Jeff Null said. "It took us a few innings to get adjusted and compete at that level. We did get it figured out the fourth or fifth inning and played pretty well after that."
In the opener, Crowder was the first team this season to beat Three Rivers' top pitcher Kindi Puckett (8-1). Puckett didn't allow a run in her first eight appearances. She came on in relief in the series finale against Metropolitan on March 22 and gave up two runs as Three Rivers rallied to win 13-6. Crowder (28-3, 8-1) put together nine hits and hit five home runs, with Marissa Mitchell and Emily Shipman each hitting two for three RBIs each. "We figured out that she was tipping her pitches, and they were taking advantage of it," Null said. "That was just an adjustment we had to make." Three Rivers, receiving votes but not ranked in this week's poll, had nine hits to Crowder's eight but didn't send any over the fence while striking out 13 times.
Molly Spangler was 2 for 4 with a run and two RBIs to lead the offense. Fayth Rakes was 2 for 3 with a run, and Jenny Morey scored twice. The power advantage flipped in the nightcap, with Three Rivers hitting four home runs with Crowder getting none. "I was very pleased with how we responded to being up against it for the very first time," Null said. The Raiders, ranked first in the country in team batting average (.459), third in slugging percentage (.799) and fourth in on-base percentage (.504), got home runs from Jaime Lee, Brianna Everett, Lauren Joyner and Gracie Thomas.
Everett had a grand slam in the sixth and finished 2 for 4 with four RBIs. It was Joyner's team-leading eighth home run of the season, while Lee and Everett each have six. Three Rivers was down a run and then scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. "(Crowder's) two pitchers were two of the top five in the nation in strikeouts per seven innings," Null said. "The second pitcher, we struck out five times and hit four home runs." Makayla Bryant (2-0) pitched the final three innings and got the win. She allowed two hits and no walks with four strikeouts. Makale Floyd started and pitched 2 1/3 innings before taking a line drive off the knee. She allowed six hits and a walk with one strikeout.
Scott Borkgren - Daily american Republic