The Benton Rangerettes (0-1) looked to be starting their 2017 spring softball season in the right direction Thursday as they took a 6-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning against the Salem Wildcats.
Unfortunately, the Wildcats' bats woke up in the seventh and they scored seven runs to snatch the lead and swipe a 7-6 victory away from the Rangerettes.
The visiting Rangerettes got off to a good start with senior Ally Gischer stepping to the plate as the first hitter of the season. She popped a fly ball to center field and then was able to cross the plate on a sacrifice bunt from sophomore Courtney Reno.
They attempted to continue scoring runs with help from Lacey Jerkins who nailed a double into left field. But Jerkins was caught stealing third base and the inning ended for the Rangerettes who went on defense.
With junior Eb Casey on the mound--and solid defense behind her--the Wildcats did not tally runs nor hits during the first. In fact, Casey did not give up a hit until the fifth inning.
Meanwhile, the Rangerettes continued their attack in the second, starting with a base hit by senior Cristen Shaw. But she was stranded at third after Casey hit a sacrifice bunt, freshman Zoe Carlton was struck out and junior Baylie Sawyer hit a pop fly which was caught at third base.
Again, solid defense behind Casey kept the Wildcats from making any plays at the plate, but their defense was also on par and the Rangerettes could not score in the third, fourth or fifth innings.
Then in the sixth inning, the Rangerettes found their game again and scored three runs. It started with freshman Kiley Carter who hit a single to second base. Then, Gischer laid down a bunt and outran the pass to make it to first base. Jerkins came up to bat again and hit a single which brought Carter across the plate and Gischer to third base.
Shaw came to the plate again and hit a single which brought Gischer and Jerkins around to score a pair of runs.
The Rangerettes added two more runs in the seventh inning to pad their lead. Runs came when Carlton lobbed a base hit into right field. Freshman Presley Allsopp entered the game to pinch run for Carlton.
Next, Sawyer hit a fly ball into left field and got onto first base--sophomore Ember Milby pinch ran for Sawyer.
Lastly, Gischer came to the plate and knocked a blooper into center field to load up the bases and give Reno a turn.
She grounded a ball to the pitcher who got Allsopp out at home, but the bases remained loaded for Jerkins. She hit the ball into center field, making it to second base and bringing Milby and Gischer across the plate.
Things looked good for the Rangerettes, but the home team would not give up. Having gone the whole game with only one hit, the Wildcats earned six against Casey in the seventh inning (and also earned two walks). This included a two-run homerun over the left field fence.
With two outs and still clinging to a now one run (6-5) lead, the Rangerettes brought Carter to the mound and sent Casey to finish the game at second base (sending Jerkins to fill in at center field).
Carter walked her first batter and then threw a pair of wild pitches which allowed two Wildcats' base-runners to steal home plate, the lead and the victory.
The Rangerettes at set to play their home opener Friday afternoon at Benton Park. They will face Tuscola High School.