Paige McCrary strode to the plate with big ideas in the bottom of the third inning Tuesday … and delivered with her big bat.
In storybook fashion, Kenton Ridge High School’s cool-as-a cucumber clean-up hitter ripped a no-outs, based-loaded liner into deep right-center field, turning a 1-0 Cougar lead into a 17-3, five-inning softball mugging of visiting Tippecanoe.
“Everyone dreams of being in that situation, especially as a four hitter,” McCrary, a senior catcher, said. “People have high expectations when you’re in that spot. I knew I just had to wait for a good pitch.”
Sarah Albaugh, ninth in the order, led off the Cougars’ high-scoring third frame with a single to left center. Learic Kinser and Brittany Harting followed with a pair of scrappy, bunt-and-slap singles, and pitcher Courtney Lopez drew an RBI walk.
McCrary’s ensuing blast cleared the bases, igniting a 14-hit, 17-run Cougar slugfest that sent 21 batters to the plate and took 41 minutes to stop.
“We’ve been hitting the ball a lot lately,” said Cougars coach Sarah Ivory, whose squad finished with 16 hits. “It’s awesome that we can come out in the third like we did and just keep rolling. That was exciting.”
Mykee Holtz, a freshman shortstop, added insult to injury after McCrary’s clutch at-bat with a two-run shot over the left field fence. She finished 3 for 4.
“Sarah just started us off, and whenever we start hitting, we just keep hitting,” said Lopez, who allowed six hits and struck out three. “It helps so much, as a pitcher, to have our offense and defense behind me.”
The Central Buckeye Conference, Kenton Division title will likely be decided today, when the pair of Division II’s state-ranked heavyweights meet again in Tipp City.
Kenton Ridge (21-2) and Tippecanoe (19-5) now boast identical 13-1 league marks.
“Hopefully, this will get us fired up for (today),” Ivory said. “We talked about things after the game. The girls realize it’s going to be zero-zero again. We’ve got to hit the ball and play defense.
“They’re a good team. They’ll be ready,” she added. “We’ve got to come back ready to hit.”
In the dizzying aftermath, Tippecanoe coach Charles Tacket had little to say.
“We’ll play again (today). We’re ready to play again (today). That’s my comment,” the veteran coach said. “Sometimes, you’ve got to get your butt kicked to find out what kind of team you really are, and we got our butt kicked tonight.”
Albaugh went 2 for 2 with a triple and three RBIs. All of the Cougars’ runs were earned.