Kenton Ridge’s offense starts with leadoff hitter Brittany Harting. Where it ends will be the difficult job of opposing pitchers this season.
Whether it was Harting hitting for extra bases, the middle of the order hitting line-drive singles or two freshmen at the bottom of the order hitting home runs, the Cougars were scoring in bunches Saturday in a nonconference doubleheader sweep of Fairmont. The Cougars won the opener 7-0 behind the four-hit pitching of Courtney Lopez and won the second 15-9 with an 18-hit attack.
“We kind of have a good problem,” Kenton Ridge coach Sarah Ivory said. “We have 13 kids that can play anywhere, and they can go in and hit, they can go in and run, they can do pretty much anything.”
And a lot of them are young.
Harting, a sophomore outfielder, started the second game with a triple and scored on a wild pitch. A Fairmont error helped load the bases with two outs for freshman shortstop Mykee Holtz. She hit a grand slam well beyond the fence in left for a 5-0 lead.
“I was just trying to get a base hit for my team and the right pitch just came,” Holtz said. “It was a changeup, and I just waited on it and took it over.”
Holtz said she thought she had hit a home run, but she did what she is coached to do – she didn’t watch it.
“No, I was running to first,” she said.
Starting pitcher and freshman Mariyah Burkhardt led off the second inning for the Cougars and homered to left-center. Harting followed with a double and scored on a single by senior catcher Paige McCrary, who was 3-for-5 with three RBIs, and the Cougars were up 7-2.
But with Burkhardt and sophomore Learic Kinser unable to keep Fairmont from scoring, the Cougars needed a four-run fourth, which included a two-run single by Holtz, and a three-run seventh to hold off the Firebirds. Lopez, another sophomore, relieved Kinser in the fifth and recorded the final nine outs.
The slow starts, especially on defense, have been a theme for the Firebirds (2-3), said first-year coach Bob Franz, who coached previously at Carroll and Waynesville.
“That’s something we have to work on,” Franz said. “But give them all the credit. They hit the ball well — hit some shots.”
Fairmont had 12 hits in the second game, including a two-run double and two-run homer by freshman third baseman Melanie Grant.
Harting, who had a triple in the first game, hit a two-run double in her third at-bat and finished 4-for-5. Kinser was 2-for-4 with two RBIs in the opener and 2-for-4 in the second game, Holtz was 3-for-4 and Haley Dillon was 2-for-5.
“We just wanted a good team win,” Harting said. “We’re trying to really play together, and I think we’re really starting to do that. And I think the team’s really happy about that.”