By Josh Brown
PLEASANT HILL — Both Newton and Bradford found themselves in similar situations twice early in Thursday’s game.
The Indians simply executed better each time.
Newton (4-6, 4-2 Cross County Conference) took the lead by scoring on a double steal in the first inning and then put the game out of reach for good with a two-out, seven-run rally in the bottom of the fourth, ending the game early with a 13-3 run-rule victory over the visiting Railroaders Thursday.
Bradford (6-4) had runners on first and third with two outs in the top of the first inning, only to see a baserunner caught in a rundown between first and second on a fake double steal to end the inning. With Newton in the exact same situation in the bottom of the inning, Kylee Fisher stole second and Haley Pack — who had earlier doubled in the inning — stole home to give Newton a 1-0 lead.
“Last night against Arcanum, we left a lot of runners on base that we should have scored,” Newton coach Mark Gibson said. “You don’t want to dwell in the past, but if you’re going to compete with the top-level teams in this conference, you’ve got to score with runners in scoring position. Our baserunning and execution is getting better every single game.”
Bradford found that out the hard way in the fourth inning.
Tori Smith and Bailey Wysong both drew walks to start the inning, but Newton pitcher Kristen Rappold got a strikeout for the first out as Bradford couldn’t get a sacrifice bunt down. Chelsea Gill was able to bunt the runners to second and third, though, but Rappold got another strikeout to leave them stranded and get out of the inning still holding the one-run lead.
In the bottom of the inning, the Indians put the first two runners on, failed to get a sac bunt down with no outs but succeeded with one out, putting runners on second and third with two outs — exactly like Bradford had in the top of the inning.
But freshman Mallory Dunlevy was clutch when it counted, ripping a two-run single through the hole between second and third base to keep the inning going. Two batters later, Pack added an RBI single with the bases loaded, then Kacie Tackett waited back on a changeup and hammered it past the left fielder for a bases-clearing three-run double that made the score 7-0 Newton.
“Mallory, it’s been fun to watch her grow already this year,” Gibson said. “At the beginning of the season, she was struggling. Probably went 0 for our first three games. But she’s very diligent with her work ethic and has improved every single game — and this week, she’s really opened up at the plate.”
“We just didn’t make plays,” Bradford coach Shon Schaffer said. “Our softball IQ is just not very high right now. We’ve got to get a lot better in that.”
That bit the ‘Roaders later in the game, too.
Bradford got two runs back in the fifth on back-to-back RBI singles by Smith and Wysong, but Newton added an unearned run in the bottom of the inning to make the score 8-2. Emily Huggins hit an RBI bunt single in the top of the sixth — but the Indians put the game away with aggressive baserunning in the bottom of the sixth.
Maddie Mollette led off with a double and scored on a sac bunt by Tackett, then Fisher hit an RBI double to make the score 10-3. Rappold and Dunlevy both hit two-out RBI singles, with runners advancing bases and forcing bad throws from the defense again and again — and McKell Deaton finally scored the game-ending run on a wild pitch to finish things off.
“Last year, at their place, they beat us on a wild pitch in the seventh inning,” Gibson said. “I know Bradford is a better team than they showed today. But we always tell the girls it’s not about who the better team is — it’s about who the better team on the field that day is. If we can come out with this kind of energy and execute every day, we’re going to do well.”
Mollette finished 1 for 3 with a double and two runs, Pack was 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI, Tackett was 1 for 3 with a double and four RBIs, Fisher was 1 for 4 with a double, an RBI and a run, Rappold was 2 for 4 with an RBI and Dunlevy was 3 for 4 with three RBIs.
For Bradford, Smith was 2 for 2 with a double and an RBI, Wysong was 1 for 1 with an RBI, Ciara Yohey was 1 for 3 and Huggins was 1 for 3 with an RBI.
Bradford hosts Troy and Versailles in a doubleheader Saturday, while Newton is in action against Franklin Monroe on Monday.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.