Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
Through the first four innings of play Wednesday, the Helias softball team managed a one-run lead against visiting Moberly. Coach Dan Campbell wasn’t satisfied.
“I knew we were going to need some more, because that’s just the way softball is,” he said. “One-run leads aren’t too safe.”
The Lady Crusaders granted his wish, plating four in the fifth on its way to a 6-1 win against the Lady Spartans.
Allison Morrow led off the inning with a bunt single and a stolen base, Julie Harris got a single and steal of her own, and runners scored in the next three at-bats as Helias expanded its lead.
“It’s nice to get our speed people on base and put the ball in play behind them,” Campbell said.
Jordan Nappier hit a single to drive in Morrow, and Lauren Morrow hit a ball to center that was dropped and allowed Harris to score. Then Grace Dittmer knocked Nappier and Lauren Morrow off the basepaths with a double.
Allie Ashcraft got the win for the Lady Crusaders, allowing just four hits in four-plus innings. She struck out one and was lifted in the fifth after giving up a single to Tayler Kroner.
“She was awesome. I’m really happy for her,” Campbell said of Ashcraft, a junior. “She works her tail off in practice and does everything you ever ask of her, and she came out and just did exactly what I wanted her to do: throw strikes and play defense.”
Ashcraft did plenty of the both. She didn’t walk a batter and fielded five ground balls for outs, including three straight in the third inning.
Lindsey Steinbeck entered in relief, and recorded three outs to avoid damage in the fifth. She walked one batter but didn’t give up a hit in her appearance.
“And we played defense behind them, and that’s the whole key,” Campbell said. “Our pitchers are going to throw strikes. We’ve just got to make plays behind them — that’s all.”
Before the bottom of the fifth, Helias and Moberly appeared to be neck and neck.
“We always have a tough game with them, and tonight was no different,” Campbell said.
The Lady Spartans scored first. Tonja Chapman doubled in the top of the first, and she scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Keanna Kinder.
Helias was held scoreless until the third. Moberly pitcher Maddie Hager struck out three in the inning but couldn’t retain the lead.
Helias second baseman Riley Bond reached first on a dropped third strike, and Allison Morrow walked. Harris popped up a bunt that landed in a Bermuda Triangle of Lady Spartan defenders, and when Allison Morrow belatedly realized the ball had dropped, Kinder tried to force her out at second. Allison Morrow reached safely, however, and the throw allowed Bond to come home.
Nappier struck out, and Lauren Morrow’s groundout plated Harris, who also reached safely on her bunt, to score.
The win puts Helias at 5-7 on the year. The Lady Crusaders play this weekend in the Liberty/Liberty North Tournament.
“It seems like we take one step forward but then we take two steps back,” Campbell said, “so hopefully we can just keep going forward.”