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Lady Lions win 8th in a row

Lead Summary
By
Stephen Forsha-sforsha@gmail.com
LEESBURG — The Fairfield Lady Lions are on a mission this season, and so far they are 8-for-8, easily defeating the West Union Lady Dragons, 9-0 Wednesday at Fairfield High School in a make-up game from Tuesday.

FHS (5-0, 8-0) collected 14 hits, while playing errorless softball to gain the Southern Hills League victory.

Again, the pitching of junior Lauren Larrick silenced yet another SHL foe. Larrick pitched a perfect game for six innings but gave up the only hit by the West Union Lady Dragons at the start of the seventh, when Amber Grooms gained a base hit on a 2-1 count.

West Union is 1-1 in the SHL and 2-3 overall.

Larrick finished with nine strikeouts and no walks in seven innings in the circle. She threw just 70 pitches and now has an 8-0 record on the season with an ERA of .053, allowing just four earned runs this season. She has 79 strikeouts and has walked just six. Batters have a .136 average against her. Larrick struck out the side in the fourth inning, sandwiching one looking strikeout in-between two swinging strikeouts.

The junior standout had help for her defense with big catches, including three line drive grabs from first baseman Shelby Smithson, one being an off-balanced catch.

Another big defensive play came from Danielle Butler, who made a running catch in centerfield for the second out in the fifth inning. Abby Thackston made a catch while backing up, saving a base hit.

"That was a stellar pitching performance from Lauren," FHS head coach Matthew Zimmerman said. "We played like a complete team. What stands out is our defense. The girls played great defense behind the pitching of Lauren."

FHS assistant coach Tom Purtell also spoke about the game.

"Everything was falling into place for the perfect game with the way the girls played defense tonight," Purtell said.

As for the offense of the Lady Lions, they added 14 hits to their season total, now tallying 89 in eight games. FHS has scored 74 runs this season, including nine or more runs in five games. FHS has totaled 62 RBIs this year.

Leading FHS at the plate were Thackston and Whitney Hanenkrat with each having three hits. Hanenkrat was 3-for-4 with two doubles, two RBIs and one steal. Thackston had one RBI and a steal.

Larrick was 2-for-4 with two doubles. One of Larrick's outs was a 14-pitch strikeout where she fouled off the softball 11 times.

"We scored two runs in an inning twice with two outs, and for that, I'm proud of the girls," Zimmerman said. "We have to continue doing that as a team to be successful."

"We are playing one game at a time," Purtell said. "West Union is a good team in our league. Tonight, we just hit the ball well. A year ago, West Union kind of made us look silly at the plate, but tonight the girls played well."

FHS scored one run in the first inning when Hanenkrat doubled in Butler with two outs for the early one-run lead.

The third inning saw FHS score twice, with the second run of the game coming on a two-base hit by Hanenkrat, allowing Thackston to score. Thackston took first on a two-out single.

Leading 3-0 with two outs in the third, Larrick doubled in Hanenkrat for the four-run advantage.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Lady Lions added two runs to take a six-run lead with Smithson scoring on a Heather Huff base hit with one out. Smithson, who was 2-for-4, reached first on a fielding error by the Lady Dragons, who had three errors on the day. Jade Shelton made the score 4-0 when she rounded the bases on a single by Thackston.

The final two innings for the undefeated Lady Lions had four more runs added to the scoreboard, with one coming in the fifth inning and three more crossing home plate in the sixth.

In the fifth, Smithson scored on a base hit by Kylie Bates, who earlier in the game made a big catch in right field.

The final three runs of the game came in a three-run sixth inning.

With one out, Thackston singled, followed by a single off the bat of Hanenkrat. After each runner advanced a base, Larrick doubled in both runners.

Five Lady Lions have 10 or more hits this season. Thackston is batting .552 with 16 hits, 11 runs and 10 RBIs., followed by Hanenkrat, who is batting .467 with 14 hits. Butler has tallied 13 hits. Larrick has 12 hits, while Huff has 11 and Smithson has 10 hits.

The final run came on a one-out single by Smithson.

The loss went to Alexandria Bowles, who pitched six innings. Bowles (2-3) allowed nine runs (seven earned) on 14 hits and one walk. She struck out eight.

FHS is scheduled to play two consecutive SHL games in the next two days. They will host Highland County rival Lynchburg-Clay on Thursday and the Fayetteville Lady Rockets on Friday. Both games are scheduled for 5 p.m.

GAME NOTES: Collecting steals for FHS were Thackston, Hanenkrat and Smithson … FHS left nine runners on the bases … West Union left one runner on base (their lone base runner of the game) … FHS scored multiple runs in three of the final four innings … The Lady Lions have walked 24 times this season … Larrick finished with three RBIs … Butler drew the lone FHS walk against WU.[[In-content Ad]]

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