Neither squad had played in weeks thanks to weather. In that regard, Thursday’s meeting between rivals William Monroe and Madison County was a re-opening of the season. And with a second meeting between the two scheduled six days later, almost a series.
The first inning was furious. The bottom of the sixth and the top of the seventh was furious. Sandwiched in between was just one run, and it went Madison County’s way. The latter two battles cancelling out run wise, the Mountaineers’ ability to generate insurance in a tight-knit battle proved to be the difference with the home team taking the win, 6-5.
“Finally got a game in after three weeks,” said Madison coach Jesse Yowell. “It’s good to come out like we did and get the lead in the first inning. It was a great game and I’m sure glad we got those runs in the fourth and the sixth. Those were important. You just never know what can happen.”
Both teams came out swinging with the Dragons getting to work first. A 1-out single from Alexis Wayland followed by walks to Emma Pickett and Jordan Shortridge in between a strikeout put Monroe in business. An RBI single in the next at bat from Morgan Lam made it 1-0. Then a bases loaded walk to Kaitlyn Napier put the visitors up 2-0.
“This is the best hitting lineup since I’ve been here the last few years and Madison has, in my opinion, the best pitching in the state,” said Monroe coach Greg Breeden. “We’re getting better everyday playing teams like Madison, Turner Ashby, Orange and Monticello. I told the kids that we’d have to bear with this, this is a tougher schedule than we’d have in years past. But the hopes are at that this will make us a lot better at the end of the year.”
Starting pitcher Logyn Estes went the next 4.1 innings with ease though. She struck out five in her five innings of work and got Madison on the board in the bottom of the first to give her a rally in response.
Meadow Anderson started off a 3-run rally in the bottom of the first with a leadoff single. Cassie Smith the reached on an error and Hannah Johnson walked to load the bases for Estes. The junior’s 2-run single tied the game up at 2-2. Bailey Smith followed that up with an RBI single and Madison was out in front 3-2.
“There was a lot of pressure in the first inning,” Estes said. “I just knew we had to make it up. We got three runners on and I just knew I had to get a hit for us.”
The Mountaineers got a leadoff double from Anderson in the bottom of the fourth. After a wild pitch and sacrifice fly from Johnson, Madison went up 4-2.
More insurance came in the sixth for Madison. There a 2-out rally started with an Estes single. Smith followed up with a double to plate Estes. Sophie Adams’ RBI single brought home Smith and it was 6-2.
“You never know, you just have to keep hitting throughout the game,” Estes said. “You never know when those runs are going to save you like it just did this game.”
One swing of the bat changed the tune of the game in the top of the seventh. Back-to-back errors allowed Kaitlyn Beale and Lacey Beale to reach first and second with no outs. After pitcher Emily Seale got a fly out from one of Monroe’s biggest bats in Wayland, and then a strikeout to follow, things looked in hand. But a towering flyball from Jessica Ford to left field that just slipped over the foul ball pole gave Monroe hope with a 3-run homer to make it 6-5.
“We were putting the ball in play but it was quiet in the middle innings,” Breeden said. “But then at the end we got back to it, Jessica did a real nice job there.”
However, Seale needed just four pitches to the end the game with a strikeout looking to pick up the save and wrap up the win.
For Monroe, Ford was 2-for-4 with three RBI. Lam was 1-for-3 while Wayland and Lacey Beale were 1-for-4. Pickett and Hallie Lamb each threw three innings for the Dragons and combined for eight hits and one walk.
Madison got a 5-strike out effort from Estes in the circle to go with her 2-for-3 day with two RBI at the plate. Anderson and Smith also finished 2-for-3. Seale gave up just one hit in two innings of relief while striking out four and not giving up a walk.
The Mountaineers play at Orange County on Friday. The Dragons next get Madison, again, at home on Wednesday.