By Ben Hanneman
In what can best be described as an alarm clock game, the Pulaski County Lady Cougars softball team erupted for double-digit hits in a 12-1 drubbing of the Christiansburg Blue Demons at Harkrader Sports Complex Friday.
Too many times for anyone’s comfort this season the Cougars have gone on the road only to leave their bats still napping somewhere between the bus and the diamond; to say nothing of the defense.
On Friday, the Cougars all but desperate for a district win, the alarm clock finally flipped to “HIT.”
And the Cougars hit everything but the bus. Never mind that that wouldn’t have counted because it was in the parking lot behind them.
Kelli Duncan tagged a two-out single to right in the first inning. Unfortunately, she and Brooke Hundley, who walked, were stranded when Lauren Shumate popped out to short.
Beep. Beep. Beep!
With Carli Brewer at second after an error in the second, Courtney Beville helped her own cause with a single up the middle to score Brewer.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep!
The Cougars banged out three more hits in the second, two outfield hits off the bats of Hundley and Sara Wright, and an infield single by Shumate. By the time they were done, five runs had crossed the plate.
“It was nice to get a lead for our pitcher (Beville),” Miano said. “One of the things we’ve been preaching is to get ahead for the pitcher because we have young pitchers and they need that support. They pitch better with that lead. That’s statistically proven. So it was nice to breathe a little bit and let Courtney fool with some of her pitches.”
Pulaski clubbed seven more hits over the next three innings – 12 in all – including five in the fifth that scored four more runs.
Wright provided the biggest hit of the game in the third with a three-run home run to left centerfield, her sixth of the season. Most of her homers have been titanic blasts. One was a line drive over the left field fence. But this one was just a little different.
“Most her home runs are right off the bat. This home run, it was like the ball was on the bat forever. And it was the final wrist snap that took it. She’s got a quick snap to her swing and it’s pretty awesome,” Miano said.
Wright also figured nicely into the last play of the game defensively as she threw out Jaci Berg at third to complete a rare shortstop-to-first-to-third game-ending double play.
“We work on that play every single day, so it was great that they got to see it,” Miano said.
Wright’s throw to third impressed Miano even more.
“You talk about strong! There were no legs on that throw. She was on the bag and she went all arm,” Miano said.
And the win was just what the doctor ordered too.
“This was the alarm-clock game we were looking for,” Miano said.
“It’s nice, one, to win on a Friday. We haven’t won on a Friday in a long time. It’s also nice to play our first district game with our full defense and enthusiasm.
A scary moment in the third nearly took the team’s breath away – literally. On a bang-bang play at second base, Hundley, who had just returned from surgery, went down hard after a collision at the bag.
“I thought, ‘Oh [expletive]!’ I figured she got cleated in the chest,” Miano said about her reaction to seeing Hundley on her back behind second base.
Turns out that Hundley merely had the breath knocked out of her in the collision and couldn’t communicate right away.
“She couldn’t catch her breath. But when she finally laid there she told me it was her leg. She was just out of breath,” Miano said.
Moments later, showing the competitive nature that has made her hands down the team spark plug on and off the field, Hundley was able to run off the field under her own power.
Later, Hundley was hit in the shin by another ground ball. In the dugout between innings she said, “Man, I’m just getting beat up out there!”
“She’s such a competitor. We have The Terminator (Kelli Duncan) and now we have The Energizer Bunny. She just keeps going and going and she’s full of energy all the time,” Miano said.
That energy rubbed off on her teammates as well as they put together an error-free game for the first time since they last played Christiansburg. There was the occasional passed ball. In fact, the first one led to the Blue Demons’ only run in the first.
Other than that, though, the Cougars played error-free the entire way, which came as a complete shock to their skipper.
“Oh, I can’t even believe that. Are you kidding? If we didn’t have any errors in that game it could be the most exciting day of my life. Our expectation is to get nine hits, one take away play, and today we added less than two errors. So today we met all the goals of the game.”