MARION -- The Marion High School softball team was in a battle with Graves County until erupting in the fourth inning and eventually shortgaming the Kentucky school, 11-1 in six innings, Monday at the Crisp Sports Complex.
"We adjusted to the pitching well," said Marion coach Joy Neal, whose team improved to 5-0. "Their pitcher had a really good changeup and we were able to find it and spoil it. It didn't fool us after a while."
Marion had control early with two runs in the bottom of the first inning, most notably with a sacrifice fly from Tori Evans, but also lost two runners on the bases.
But the runs came as Hannah Nalley and Morgan Andrews both slid home and Neal felt the sac fly to center field from Evans was the key moment.
"That was kind of the turning point of the game," Neal said. "After that we just kept playing good defense and didn't back down."
The Lady Eagles had runners at second and third in the second inning, but Marion hurler Ivy Smart struck out two batters and got a groundout to escape unscathed. And again the visitors put runners on in the third with two miscues and a bloop hit, but came away with just one run.
Graves County also had runners in scoring position in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, but didn't score any more runs.
"We had a couple errors but we were able to stop the bleeding quickly," Neal said. "Ivy did a really good job of getting out of some jams."
Marion's half of the fourth started with a popout but then Evans was hit by a pitch. Andrea Roberts followed with a single and Karris Rhine also got a hit. Kaylee Evans worked a walk and Heaven Lawrence reached on an error and suddenly Marion had a 7-1 lead.
"It really got contagious after Tori got on base," Neal said. "Everyone just followed suit."
Tori Evans then blasted a solo homer to lead off the fifth and Andrews ended the game in walkoff fashion with a three-run shot in the sixth after Keira Hance singled and Nalley drew a walk.
"Morgan's homer was kind of the icing on the cake," Neal said.
The victory opened a challenging week for the Lady Wildcats, who were scheduled to visit Massac County on Tuesday and also play at Murphysboro on Thursday.