Home Russell County Lady Lakers improve to 4-0 in district play

Lady Lakers improve to 4-0 in district play

Kiara Kemp
Eighth-grader Kiara Kemp throws out a runner at first during last week's district win over Clinton County. Russell County is now 4-0 in 16th district play.
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The Russell County Lady Lakers (13-7, 4-0) won both of their district games last week to improve to 4-0 in the 16th District, putting the squad in prime position for the No. 1 seed in the district tournament.

Russell County defeated Cumberland County (7-9, 3-1) by a score of 3-1 on Tuesday and took down Clinton County (9-6, 1-3) 16-0 (10-run-ruling the Lady Bulldogs in only five innings) on Thursday. Both wins came on the road.

Against Cumberland, the Lady Lakers tallied nine hits, with junior Emma Popplewell and senior Tarryn Reynolds pacing the offense with two hits apiece.

Junior Mady Hatchett got the party started for the Lady Lakers in the second inning with a two-run single, driving in freshman Jaylee Roy and sophomore Addie Davis.

Reynolds drove in Popplewell in the third inning to give Russell County the comfortable 3-0 lead.

In the pitcher’s circle, Reynolds allowed only four hits and struck out 14 batters in the complete game win.

Cumberland County scored one run in the bottom of the third, but Reynolds and the Lady Laker defense didn’t allow another Cumberland County batter to reach first base.

No stats were available at press time from Russell County’s dominant win over Clinton County.

The Lady Lakers now control their own destiny and can clinch the top seed with a win against Cumberland County in the teams’ next matchup on Thursday, April 28.

“That’s our goal; that’s where we need to be,” head coach Tonya Rexroat said. “Those 2-3 (seeded) games are pretty tight games. We’ve had a long talk about how we definitely need to secure the 1 seed. We’re hosting the district, and we want to be the 1 seed. We’re on a good track for that … To get by Cumberland again will be tough, but we will be playing them at home, at least.”

The team went 6-0 in its first six games after the Cal Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach during Spring Break. Russell County has won all four of its district games and went 2-0 in the Lady Laker Classic on Saturday, April 16.

Rexroat has been impressed with her team’s ability to buy in to the game plan and show continued improvement throughout the season.

“We’ve really been working on a game plan that we talked about at the beginning of the season,” Rexroat said. “I told them it would be midseason before we really understood this game plan, but once we get it, we were going to be hard to beat. We’re getting to that point now. We’re executing offensively: moving runners, getting them into scoring position, and scoring runners. I think we’ve finally crossed that threshold.”

Defensively, Rexroat said the team has been solid all year and have continued “getting a little bit more crisp” as the season has gone on.

“With runners on, they know what to do,” Rexroat said. “We’ve had good relays, good throws. I feel really good about where we’re at defensively.”

The Lady Lakers’ winning streak was snapped by a tough Barren County (12-5) team on Friday. The Trojanettes took down the Lady Lakers 13-0. Barren County also won the teams’ previous matchup, 8-1.

Senior Sophie Shearer picked up the only two hits for the Lady Lakers on the night, although fellow senior Payton Kinnett also reached base on a walk.

Rexroat said her team has a “tough season the rest of the way out,” but as long as the team keeps on the pace it was on during the winning streak and there aren’t any injuries, she likes her team’s chances at finishing the regular season out strong.

“Since we came back from Myrtle Beach, we seemed to have just hit a groove,” Rexroat said. “They’ve started trusting in the system we have, started to understand the power of bunting and sacrificing yourself for the team. It takes a level of maturity. With half our team being so young, you just have to learn that, and our team is finally starting to see that.

“We’ve got a lot of tough games left, but I just appreciate everyone’s support this season.”

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