CAREY - Old Fort set itself up with plenty of opportunities Wednesday against Carey. Unfortunately for the Stockaders, they also set Carey up with plenty of opportunities. Old Fort couldn't cash in; Carey did.
Even though four Stockader errors helped Carey build a lead, Old Fort put itself in a position to overcome them. But the Stockaders stranded seven runners, five in scoring position, and fell to the host Blue Devils 3-1.
The first inning set the tone for the way the rest of the afternoon played out. After Old Fort stranded a pair of runners in the top of the inning, Stockader mistakes let Carey take a lead in the bottom. Taylor Fletcher ripped a double to left center, but was able to take third on a Stockader throwing error. That extra base was key as Fletcher was able to come home when Hannah Draper laced a single to center field.
Carey’s Makenzie Wentling slides in safely as home as the throw gets to Old Fort catcher Shelby Bilger too late during Wednesday’s game in Carey.
Old Fort right fielder Krista Ward makes a catch on a fly ball as teammate Sammy Miller backs up the play during Wednesday’s game at Carey.
"It's really important to get started in the beginning of the game instead of waiting 'til the last minute, putting the pressure on them," Fletcher said.
Part of that pressure came from Fletcher being opportunistic, taking an extra base when it was presented.
"We're always looking for the next base," Fletcher said. "When we're rounding bases we're looking for our coach to see if we can go to the next one."
"It's always nice when the other team helps you out a little bit," Draper added. "Got to take advantage of it."
While Old Fort's defense was struggling, Carey was playing strong behind pitcher Ali Rymer, helping prevent Old Fort from getting a string of offense going. According to Carey coach Teresa Jacoby, the pitching, fielding and hitting all came together nicely in the winning effort.
"We've been doing a good job of taking advantage of getting extra bases when we can," Jacoby said. "Hannah Draper had a good game for us tonight; she went 3 for 3 at the plate. And we keep playing good solid defense behind our pitcher. And Ali's been hitting her spots really well this week."
Old Fort evened things up in the third. Peyton Miller led off with a single, was moved over on a Mackenzie Ward sac-bunt and scored when Krista Ward sent a double to the centerfield fence.
Allison Adelsperger added a single and Old Fort had runners on second and third with one out. The door was open for a big inning, but closed after a pop up to the catcher and a Rymer strike out.
Old Fort left five runners on base over the first three innings, four were in scoring position.
"We couldn't piece together consecutive hits is kind of what happened there," Old Fort coach Sandy Adelsperger said. "Played a little flat-footed tonight too. A couple untimely errors which put them in scoring position which allowed them to score."
Once again it was shaky Old Fort defense that gave Carey the lead right back. Makenzie Wentling reached on an error to start Carey's third. She came around to score on a hit by Draper that found its way through the infield.
Carey tacked on one more run in the fifth. Again Wentling reached on an error and scored on a sac-fly to center by Dani Berardinelli-Clark.
Meanwhile, Rymer was settling in. She allowed just two base hits over the final four innings, preventing any late rally.
"Usually she does settle in better as the game gets going," Jacoby said. "She gets more comfortable out there and the defense gets settled. Tonight we were able to shake off our errors and come back strong on defense."
Actually, Carey had no errors in the scorebook. That's one reason why the Blue Devils were able to pick up their fifth-straight win, including three league games this week.
"We're having a good week so for," Draper said. "Three in a row in the league is a good week for us.
"I think we have been coming on strong lately. We're hitting a lot better as a team, playing good defense. I think we look the best we have all year."
And there's no better time to look your best than with tournament play starting next week.
"We started off a little shaky in the beginning of the season and were really improving," Fletcher said. "Hopefully we can carry that into tournaments."
"This week has been a huge confidence booster both with batting and defense," Jacoby added. "So hopefully that momentum carries into Monday when we start tournament play."
Adelsperger, meanwhile, wants to see her team keep working to fix the mistakes that cost it Wednesday's game.
"We've been working on a lot of this stuff and working on fundamentals and things," she said. "And things have gotten better still, but there's still things to sharpen up before next week yet."