Lady Raiders use long ball to sweep St. Louis

Lady Raiders use long ball to sweep St. Louis

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. - Lauren Joyner has catapulted up the Three Rivers home run record book.

As of April 5, Joyner was sitting at nine home runs for the season, one behind a log jam of seven Raiders who have hit 10 home runs in a season.

Joyner got two against Mineral Area, and on Tuesday, she hit four in a sweep against St. Louis (15-11).

"She's having a heck of a year," Three Rivers coach Jeff Null said. "It was good to get her going again."

Joyner got one homer in the opener that Three Rivers won 5-4, then hit three in the nightcap as the Raiders won 8-3.

With 15 on the season, she's now tied for second with Destiny Bolen for most home runs in a single season. Allison Pingel set the record with 21 home runs in 2018. Pingel also holds the career record with 28.

With 15 home runs in 29 games, Joyner would need to keep her current pace up to match Pingel's record, which she set in 60 games.

The Raiders (28-1) had to cancel their entire February schedule this season because of weather and have 12 regular-season games remaining before the Region XVI Tournament. Starting Thursday, the Raiders will play doubleheaders on four straight days.

"We're going to need everybody. We're going to get into that depth a little bit," Null said.

On the day, Joyner finished 5 for 6 with four runs and six RBIs.

After sweeping Crowder on Sunday to move into first place in the region and cracking the national rankings for the first time at No. 15 in this week's poll, Three Rivers' energy took a step back Tuesday.

"I think we had a little bit of a letdown after the Crowder game," Null said. "I know the girls were excited they finally got ranked. We were just a little draggy today."

In the nightcap, Cayton Sloan and Brianna Everett had solo home runs to give the Raiders five in the game. The lone run Three Rivers got that didn't come from a home run was when Jenny Morey scored on a double steal.

Sloan (7-0) also pitched in the win and allowed four hits and two walks with six strikeouts.

The Raiders built a 4-0 lead in the fifth inning of the opener. Blair Quarles scored in the third and fourth innings on an error and an RBI single by Jaime Lee. Kyla Puckett also had a solo home run in the fourth, and Joyner did the same in the fifth.

In the sixth, Three Rivers pitcher Kindi Puckett (14-1) gave up two walks and a double to load the bases with nobody out.

Clean-up hitter Linsey McMillan then tied it with a grand slam.

Fayth Rakes came through for the Raiders in the bottom frame with a full-count, solo home run to retake the lead.

"We didn't play our best and were still able to take care of business today. So there were some positives," Null said.

Makayla Bryant then pitched a perfect seventh to get the save.

"Kindi's back was bothering her. I think it was just the toll of everything. Her back tightened up on her about the third or fourth inning," Null said. "I got her out probably an inning too late."


Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic