Lady Raiders crack national rankings, sweep Crowder

Lady Raiders crack national rankings, sweep Crowder

Three Rivers made its debut in the national rankings this week.

On the outside looking in to start the season, Three Rivers is now ranked 15th in the nation in Monday's poll.

"The girls were pretty excited about it," Three Rivers coach Jeff Null said. "They knew eventually it would happen if they kept winning."

The Raiders (26-1, 13-1 Region XVI) made a bid to be ranked even higher next week by sweeping 19th-ranked Crowder on Sunday. While the poll was released the day after the game, results were not included in the standings.

Three Rivers won Sunday's opener 6-2 in eight innings and won the nightcap 3-2 in Neosho, Mo. It was the second loss of the season for both of Crowder's top two pitchers.

"That's the first time I've ever gone over there and gotten two wins," said Null, who is in his fifth season with the program. "That's big for us in the region standings."

With the sweep, the Raiders took 3 of 4 in the season series against the Roughriders.

The opener was tied at two after seven innings.

In the top of the eighth, Zoe Bisby singled, and Lauren Joyner drew a walk to bring Kyla Puckett to the plate, and the designated hitter crushed her second home run of the game to finish with four RBIs.

Puckett also drew two walks and was the only Raider to reach base more than twice. She now has seven home runs on the season.

"Kyla had a huge game with two home runs," Null said. "That was the difference."

With the bases cleared, Jenny Morey singled and scored from second on Blair Quarles' single up the middle to give Three Rivers a 6-2 lead.

Kindi Puckett (13-1), who allowed six hits, six walks, and a hit batter with 10 strikeouts, gave up a leadoff single but ended the game with her final two strikeouts.

"Kindi was dominant, threw well in game 1," Null said. She made one mistake, and the girl hit a home run."

Crowder stranded 10 batters in the game and had their first five batters reach base in the first inning, but only got one run out of it because of a pair of fielder's choices from shortstop to third to get the lead runner.

In the second inning, Joyner scored on another RBI single from Quarles, and Puckett had a solo home run in the third.

Sydney Ward (10-2) allowed eight hits and three walks with 11 strikeouts in her first loss of the season.

In the nightcap, Makale Floyd (3-0) allowed four hits and two walks with three strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings to get the win.

"My plan was to go a few innings with her, but she was cruising," Null said. "She had the drop ball going, and they were beating it into the ground."

Kindi Puckett got the save by allowing one hit in the final 1 1/3.

Bisby, who was 2 for 3 and the only Raider with multiple hits, put Three Rivers in front with a two-run home run in the first inning, scoring Jaime Lee, who got a leadoff single.

Lee reached on an error in the third, advanced to third on another error, and scored on Brianna Everett's sacrifice fly.

Crowder (34-6,12-4), which only had seven baserunners in the game, had the tying run on third base when Kindi Puckett entered, and she got a flyout to center.

The Roughriders started the bottom of the seventh with a leadoff single and a stolen base.

At shortstop, Molly Spangler got a grounder and threw to first for the out. Joyner, at first base, threw back to third with the runner trying to advance, and Kyla Puckett made the tag. Bases cleared, Kindi Puckett got a grounder to second against the No. 9 hitter to end the game.

Baily Buffington (8-2) pitched a complete game in the loss and allowed three hits and two walks with a home run.


Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic