Lady Raiders stay perfect with wins against Kansas schools

Lady Raiders stay perfect with wins against Kansas schools

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Three Rivers softball stayed unbeaten after picking up a trio of wins Monday. In their first games in more than a week due to weather, Three Rivers beat Neosho County twice, winning 3-0 to start the day and 17-6 to end it. In between, the Raiders clobbered Allen County 19-3 in five innings. Three Rivers (11-0) remains unranked despite its undefeated record. The first month of the season was canceled because of the weather, and the Raiders didn't have their season opener until March 4. They've played 11 games and canceled nine. "We missed out on (early tournaments) where we'd play ranked teams, and we really don't have any more until we get into region play," Three Rivers coach Jeff Null said. "We can't help the schedule ... you have to play your schedule, and they're doing it at a high level."

Kindi Puckett (5-0) pitched a complete game in the opener to win 3-0. She allowed four hits and two walks with nine strikeouts. She has yet to allow an earned run this season. The Raiders had gotten only one runner on base through the first three innings, and then Molly Spangler broke the scoreless game. She singled to lead off the fourth and scored from second on an RBI single by Zoe Bisby. Bridgette Swinford walked, stole second, and scored on Jaime Lee's single in the fifth. The Raiders added one more run with some small ball in the top of the seventh. Designated hitter Makayla Bryant singled, and pinch-runner Kenlee McAuliffe stole second. With two outs, Blair Quarles singled McAuliffe in from second base. Puckett stranded four, and at one point in the middle innings, struck out five out of nine batters faced. Neosho's best chance to score was in the third when it got runners on the corners with nobody out. But Puckett got two strikeouts and a line drive to second. She wouldn't allow another hit until the sixth inning, and no other runner reached third base. In the nightcap, Neosho (8-12) had a 6-2 lead on the Raiders after the second inning, but Three Rivers scored seven runs in both the fourth and sixth innings, outscoring Neosho 15-0 after the second inning.

The Raiders hit five home runs along the way. Lauren Joyner had two homers and four RBIs, matching her with Bisby for the team lead of four home runs. Joyner also doubled and scored three times. Brianna Everett was 3 for 4 with a home run, a double, two runs and five RBIs. Fayth Rakes was 2 for 4 with a home run and two RBIs, and Gracie Thomas, pinch-hitting, had a grand slam in her only at bat. Cayton Sloan (4-0) pitched 2 2/3 innings in relief to get the win. She allowed one hit and a walk with no strikeouts. The Raiders hit another four home runs against Allen County (5-8) to get Makenna Moore (1-0) her first win in the circle. "They're making it difficult on us coaches, but that's OK. It's a good problem to have," Null said. "The kids all have ability and having that depth; that's what really pays off." Lee, Everett, Quarles and Emma Keen all hit one over the fence. Lee had a grand slam and led the team with five RBIs, while Everett and Quarles both had three RBIs and scored twice. Keen, also pinch-hitting, homered in just her third plate appearance of the season. "It's nice having options on the bench, a lot of weapons there," Null said. "I can match up kids who can handle the high ball with pitchers who throw the high ball ... we're able to match up pretty well with anybody." It was the first home runs of the year for Keen and Quarles.

The Raiders scored 10 runs in the first inning and led 15-1 after two. Moore started, and with tons of room to work with, allowed three hits and no walks with one strikeout over two innings. The Raiders now have 26 home runs through 11 games, with 13 players getting at least one. The Raiders have a .456 team batting average, .510 team on-base percentage, and .781 team slugging percentage. They respectively rank second, fourth and fifth in the nation in those categories. "It's just crazy numbers, and we have several of them who aren't hitting on all cylinders yet," Null said. "You can look down our roster, and there are so many kids who can hit the long ball and doing well."


Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic