Softball Cardinals outlast Berea in home opener, 10-7

Published 1:03 am Friday, March 24, 2017

The George Rogers Clark High School softball team got the first win of the young season during their home opener Thursday night.

But they had to fight for it.

“It feels like I just coached the World Series,” GRC Matt Puckett said. “You can’t take a pitch off with this group. They’re young and inexperienced. It’s helping me as a coach. I have to stay with every pitch, have to be focused every at bat and attentive the whole game.

“You can’t let up.”

GRC was forced to rally late and hold off a comeback to put Berea away, 10-7.

The Cardinals fell behind early as the Pirates jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. They took advantage of GRC miscues and good baserunning, scoring a pair on a bunt attempt after an errant throw.

Berea added two more in the third inning — thanks to an RBI-double off the bat of Kendra Shearer and a wild throw on a stolen-base attempt — and seemed ready to cruise to a win.

But GRC finally answered in the bottom of the third. After a pair of hits to lead off the inning, Alyson Kidd brought home the first run with a sacrifice fly.

Courtney Miles, Whitney Walker and Marly Rogers followed that with three straight singles, making the score 5-4 and ending the day for Berea starter Shearer.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Clark offense went back to work, scoring six runs on four hits and three walks.

Berea wasn’t about to go quietly. The Pirates rallied in the seventh with a pair of runs scoring on an inside-the-park home run. After two more Pirates reached base, the Cardinals closed the door and celebrated their first win.

“It was back and forth and I’m thankful we were able to save our energy for the end,” Puckett said. “I told them we were going to get the lead, and they were going to come back and you are going to wonder why you didn’t push more runs across when you had the chance.

“You have to capitalize on the opportunities. We didn’t. We’re five up and they score two, and now it’s a three-run game and you start to get tight.”

GRC improves to 1-2 on the year and Berea falls to 0-3.

For a young Cardinals team, the win proved to be a good learning experience — and there will be plenty more as they journey through the regular season.

“One step at a time,” Puckett said. “One play at time. You don’t realize how true that is until you are working with a lot of players who haven’t played a lot. They have to learn to keep their foot on the pedal. You can never let up. You’ve always got to be learning from the game.”

The Cardinals travel to Western Hills High School in Franklin County this weekend to take part in the Lady Wolverines Classic.

They are set to play Fairdale tonight at 9 p.m. and Fern Creek Saturday at noon. Owen County is also taking part.

GRC returns home to face Bracken County at the end of the month.