SADLER — Even though the weather hasn’t been very accommodating, the Lady Rams’ bats are warming up at the right time.
With district play right around the corner, S&S used a big inning and tuned up for 9-3A action with a 9-2 victory against Collinsville in non-district play on Friday night.
It was the third time in the last four victories the offense produced at least eight runs.
“That’s normally what I expected,” S&S head coach Brandy Courville said. “It’s a good game going into district.”
Lauren Jaresh drove in two runs and worked around three hits and seven walks by striking out 15 for S&S (6-3-2), which travels to Gunter for the district opener on Tuesday night.
The Lady Rams took third place in the standings last year but had to replace some key contributors.
“Those three seniors had a lot of leadership. I lost my pitcher, catcher and center fielder. That’s a lot of talent right up the middle,” Courville said. “I do feel everyone has stepped up.”
And with what all the teams have shown so far this season, another spirited race for the district’s four playoff spots is expected.
“I feel like every season it’s been that way. We’re not going to relax for anybody,” Courville said.
Collinsville (1-2) just started its season earlier in the week due to the basketball playoffs and got a taste of what the Lady Rams are about to get into as the Lady Pirates began against three 9-3A opponents, starting with a win over Callisburg and a loss to Whitesboro before facing S&S.
After taking the lead in the second inning, S&S padded its advantage with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth. Kaylee Baker and Taylor Maxwell had back-to-back singles with one out to put runners on the corners and Jaresh brought home Baker with a groundout to second.
Riley Marshall singled to center for the final margin.
Baker manufactured a run in the fourth with she reached on an error to open the inning, stole second, went to third on a groundout and then scored when Jaresh grounded out to second.
A six-run second inning proved to be more than enough offense behind Jaresh as the Lady Rams batted around. After leaving runners at the corners in the bottom of the first, S&S had six of the first seven batters reach safely.
Alexis Bell led off the inning with a single but was erased on interference. An error put runners at the corners before Haylee Mahan’s single to left got the Lady Rams on the scoreboard.
Lefty Madison Miller beat the throw from third base to tie the game and an error allowed S&S to jump in front to stay. Maxwell followed with a two-run double to right center and Marshall made it 6-2 with a two-out single to right.
S&S had runners in scoring position in every inning except the third, when it wasted a lead-off error.
Jaresh had 10 strikeouts through the first four innings, retiring eight straight at one point.
“I’m fully confident she’s one of the best pitchers in the area,” Courville said. “She had to find the zone in the first inning but settled in.”
The Lady Pirates had almost of their production in the first inning, when they jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Carrie Johnson walked to open the game and Katy Claytor singled with one out. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch before Lexie Martin walked to load the bases.
Ella Stonebraker and Bailey Cantrell followed with walks to force in the runs before Jaresh got a pair of strikeouts to avoid further damage.
From that point on Collinsville’s best chance to score came in the seventh when it loaded the bases with two outs. Johnson walked with one out, Gracie Cavin followed with a single and Martin walked with two outs before a force at the plate ended the game.
The middle five innings saw just two Lady Pirates reach base — Cantrell led off the fourth with a walk but was stranded at first and Claytor singled to left and made it to second via an error on the hit with two outs in the fifth.