BY MATTHEW SPARKS
FOR THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
FLATWOODS The Lewis County Lady Lions can’t seem to tame Ali Hartman.
Many of Russell’s opponents haven’t found much success against her teammates either. Hartman tallied four more RBIs against the Lady Devils’ district competitors and added two more hits in an 18-2 victory over the Lady Lions in four innings at the Russell Softball Complex on Wednesday.
“I guess their pitching speed is just my speed,” said Hartman with a grin.
The junior outfielder knocked in six runs and hit a grand slam when the two teams met in Vanceburg on March 29. Hartman said her performance at the dish is really due to the fact that she wants to perform well during district play.
“My team needs me in situations like this,” Hartman said, “so I try my best.”
Hartman wasted no time getting Russell on the board when she cleared the bases in the first inning with a double down the left-field line to give the Lady Devils an early 3-0 lead.
“Ali has been making a lot of big plays for us this year,” Russell coach Dave Wheeler said. “She hits anywhere from 3 to 6 in the lineup depending on the situation. She runs the bases extremely well. She is really an aggressive kid. This is not shocking to me with the type of game she put together tonight offensively. She has been real consistent, but all the players have been real consistent, too.”
The rest of the lineup followed suit in the second inning plating seven runs in the frame. Makayla Fraley continued her torrid season at the plate with a 4-for-4 night.
She led off the second with run-scoring single.
Starting pitcher Haven Layne helped herself out with a three-run double.
Madison Darnell tacked on two runs with a two-bagger.
Hartman added an RBI single. The 10 runs all came with two outs.
Russell (14-3) has posted 219 runs so far this season.
It was the 11th time that the Lady Devils scored 13 or more runs and the ninth occasion that Russell has concluded a game in five innings or fewer.
“We are putting ourselves in really good hitting situations,” Wheeler said.
“We have all year. We are putting up double- digit runs, and when we are not, we are putting up nine.
We have outhit everybody that we have played. Hitting is contagious. When someone is up there getting hits, other kids want to hit. … The kids are working hard. They are all playing well.”
Wheeler said his team’s batting average continues to climb. Eight players are hitting over .400, according to their coach.
The Lady Devils banged out 15 hits, four off the bat of Fraley, whose average is now hovering around the .600 mark.
Sara Hieneman drove in four, including a three-run homer that easily sailed over the center- field fence.
“We all worked really hard on (our hitting) in the offseason,” Hartman said.
Grace Osborn plated two runs with a double in the third inning. Fraley scored four times. Alexis Maynard collected three runs.
Lewis County coach David Stafford said his team never quit on him despite the early troubles. Sophomore Haylee Ginn made just her second varsity start inside the circle.
With district games on consecutive nights, Stafford made the decision to save his No. 1 pitcher. Lewis County (3-5) travels to Greenup County tonight.
“They have not quit all year,” Stafford said. “It’s something they haven’t done. I was a little depressed when we got down. We gave them seven runs in the second inning.
They really should have had one. They don’t quit. That is the thing about this group.”
Layne picked up the win for Russell. She struck out eight batters over four innings.
The Lady Lions scored twice in the fourth frame on a Lady Devils error.
Russell will be one of the hosts for the Tri-State Showcase this weekend.
LEWISCO. 000 2 — 2 1 1 RUSSELL 374 4 — 18 15 1 Ginn and Stamm. Layne and Ratliff. W—Layne. L—Ginn. 2B—Layne 2 (R), Hartman (R), Osborn (R), Darnell (R). HR—Hieneman (R).
Russell’s Sara Hieneman connects for a three-run homer against Lewis County on Wednesday night.
Haven Layne celebrates with teammates after her hit wrapped up Russell’s 18-2 victory over Lewis County.
KEVIN GOLDY | THE DAILY INDEPENDENT