HATTIESBURG – It didn’t take long for the Oak Grove Lady Warriors to erase the painful memory of last week’s walk-off loss to Petal.
Behind a 10-hit attack and Ryanne Hornsby in the circle, Oak Grove got a little redemption by run-ruling the Lady Panthers 10-0 in six innings exactly one week after that loss.
“We did a better job, worked a little harder and were better prepared this time around,” Oak Grove coach Gary Ivy said. “We were disciplined at the plate, disciplined on defense, had good base running and took advantage of their mistakes.”
Last week, Hornsby issued three walks and hit three Petal batters while her defense committed quite a few errors behind her. On Tuesday, Hornsby struck out nine Lady Panthers and only allowed two hits with one walk. She gave up a two-out base hit in the first inning, then a one-out double in the fifth. Both were stranded on the base paths.
“She walked only one tonight, so that’s a big difference (from last week),” Ivy said. “When you have two or three on base every inning, and you’re fighting from behind in the count a lot, it makes it tough. Tonight, she got ahead and stayed ahead most of the time. It was a great effort.”
The Lady Warriors offense got on the board quickly with a first-inning run. Bethany McCain doubled with one out then advanced to third on a wild pitch. Lauren Perren picked up the first of her three RBI when she grounded out to shortstop.
Perren, again, delivered for Oak Grove in the third inning. With two on and no outs, she smacked a line drive to center to give Oak Grove a 3-0 lead. Alex Perren later scored in the inning on a passed ball to push the lead to 4-0.
In the fifth inning, Oak Grove used three straight singles with one out to score its fifth run of the contest, then Alexis Papp laid down a perfect bunt for a safety squeeze play to push the lead to 6-0. McKenzie Stewart scored during the next at-bat to make it 7-0.
The Lady Warriors ended the game early in the sixth, as they got a leadoff double from Mollie Kate Mitchell and a single by Ashja Walker to start the frame. An error scored the first run, then Alex Perren’s triple to left field scored the final two runs of the game.
“Everybody contributed in one way or another tonight,” Ivy said. “Whether it was a sacrifice bunt or whatever it was, that was our goal. Put the ball in play and make them catch it, throw it and catch again. If you can put it in play, good things can happen.”
Lauren Perren led the Oak Grove offense by going 3-for-4 with three RBI and a run, while Walker added a 2-for-3 performance and two runs scored. Both of Walker’s hits came on bunts, too.
Petal starting pitcher Natalie Herrington struck out seven Oak Grove batters while giving up nine runs – seven earned – on eight hits. Herrington, who’s in ninth grade, now has 75 total strikeouts this season and she’s only walked 14 opposing batters in 75.2 innings.
“Natalie has been throwing well,” Petal coach Jonathan Robertson said. “A couple of times (Tuesday) she had a tough time finding the zone, but she’s been throwing well for us. She’ll come back and throw well Thursday when we have Meridian. I feel confident in that.”
Ivy calling it a career
Long-time head coach Gary Ivy is coaching his final season at Oak Grove. Ivy has been at Oak Grove for 28 years and he’s coached the fast-pitch team for 19 seasons. He’s looking forward to a retirement filled with traveling and fishing.
“It’s been a great run and it’s time to go do some things that I want to do,” he said.