The Lady Raiders offense continued to shine with 55 runs in four games over the weekend. The Raiders swept their home opener against Southeastern Illinois on Saturday, winning the opener 7-0 and the nightcap 17-9 in six innings at McLane Park. They then traveled to Arkansas State on Sunday and won the opener 11-0 in five innings and nightcap 20-4. "Offensively, I think they started finding their groove a little bit. Finally started our season, got some reps under their belt, and got more and more comfortable as the weekend went on," Three Rivers coach Jeff Null said.
"Sunday, they were just killing the ball all day." Third-year sophomore Zoe Bisby got another home run, giving her four through eight games. She also has five doubles and 15 RBIs to lead the team. As a team the Raiders (8- 0) have hit 17 home runs, with 11 players getting at least one. Lauren Joyner, Molly Spangler and Gracie Thomas have each hit two. "We're built around a little bit of power, and it was nice to see it show up all at once," Null said. Kindi Puckett (4-0) allowed four hits and three walks with six strikeouts over six innings as the Raiders shut out Southeastern Illinois (0-4) to start Saturday. Fayth Rakes got three of the team's 12 hits, with Jaime Lee, Spangler and Blair Quarles all getting two. Kyla Puckett got her first home run of the season while Rakes had two doubles and Lee got one.
The Raiders also stole seven bases, with Spangler nabbing three. Southeastern led the Raiders 9-8 heading into the fifth inning of Saturday's nightcap, but the Raiders scored six runs in the fifth and three in the sixth as Southeastern committed six errors. Makayla Bryant (1-0) pitched the final three innings for the win and allowed six hits with no walks and no strikeouts. Brianna Everett finished 3 for 4 with three runs and four RBIs. Kenlee McAuliffe also had four RBIs on three hits and scored twice. Joyner was 2 for 3 with two runs and three RBIs. McAuliffe also homered and got a double to finish a triple shy of the cycle. "There's no relaxing in the lineup," Null said. "It's constant pressure on the pitcher to make good pitches."
In Sunday's opener, the Lady Raiders didn't wait as long to score six runs in an inning. Instead of the fifth, they put up six in the second before winning in five. Kindi Puckett pitched two innings in the win and allowed one hit with three strikeouts. East Carter alumna Makenna Moore also got three strikeouts and allowed one hit over three innings. Lee, Bisby and Joyner all had home runs as Lee was 3 for 4 with two RBIs and three runs. Bisby had four RBIs and Joyner was 1 for 1 with two walks. The Raiders trailed the nightcap 3-1 entering the third inning, then scored at least two runs in each inning the rest of the way. They were ahead 11-4 entering the top of the seventh, and piled on nine runs. Gracie Thomas had two home runs and went 5 for 5 with three runs and five RBIs to lead the offense. Three Rivers had five home runs, with Spangler, Everett and Kindi Puckett each hitting one. Spangler and Everett finished with three RBIs each. Cayton Sloan (3-0) pitched one inning in relief and got the win after not allowing a hit or a walk. After a busy stretch with four straight days of doubleheaders to open their season, the Raiders play next in the Crowder Bash this upcoming weekend and will next play at home March 20.
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic