BY ROCKY STANLEY
THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
ASHLAND Electrical service shut down at Ashland’s softball complex before the first pitch Monday evening and could not be restored.
Russell’s high-voltage offense also experienced some glitches, leaving 13 runners on base. Even so, sophomore Haven Layne ignited the Lady Devils past Ashland, 5-2.
Layne tossed a three-hitter and also came through at the plate, including a double to set up what proved to be the winning run.
“Haven had a really nice game,” Russell coach Dave Wheeler said. “Pitching-wise, she got ahead in the count. Her fastball, curve, drop and change were all working. She looked confident out there.”
Layne struck out eight batters and retired the last nine batters for her 11th win in 14 decisions. She also worked out of jams in the second, third and fourth innings as Ashland came away empty-handed all three times while stranding seven runners.
Ashland coach Scott Ingram lamented the missed opportunities, which came with Russell clinging to a 2-1 lead.
“At the end of the day, like at Boyd County (7-3 Ashland loss last week) we can’t find a timely hit,” Ingram said.
The Kittens managed only three singles Monday, with two of them coming during that three-inning span. Three Russell errors and a couple of walks helped Ashland mount the threats, but Layne snuffed them out with timely strikeouts.
On the other side, Ashland sophomore Mykayla Akers frequently dodged big innings despite Russell clogging the base paths with 11 hits, six Kittens errors, three walks and a hit batter. The Lady Devils came in averaging 12 runs per game.
“We got out of some innings,” Ingram said. “Mykayla pitched a pretty good game. We held a high-powered offense. I think that was a combination of her and our defense.”
Grace Osborn’s RBI single game Russell a 2-1 lead in the second inning, but Ashland avoided further damage with the bases jammed. Akers recorded a strikeout and shortstop Zoe Ingram made a diving stop up the middle to get the third out.
“The Akers girl did a really good job,” Wheeler said. “Our area has some good young pitchers. I look for battles between Layne and Akers over the next three years.”
The teams are scheduled to meet again on May 9 at Russell.
Layne added to her .443 batting average by going 2 for 3 after being hit by a pitch to start the second inning. She opened the fifth with a double to left-center and Rylie Cook’s two-out single made it 3-1.
Two innings later, Camryn Ratliff got a chance to bat in the same slot. The catcher delivered a run-scoring single on the heels of a walk and Ashland error. Osborn added a sacrifice fly for the final run.
“We had two hits out of the No. 9 spot, the kind of thing that’s refreshing for your offense,” Wheeler said. “We had a few more timely hits than they did.”
Annalee Miller collected three hits, including a double, for the Lady Devils (18-6). Ali Hartman had two bunt singles, walked and scored twice.
Ashland (7-13) got RBI groundouts from Sidney Campbell in the first inning and Akers in the fifth.
RUSSELL 020 010 2 — 5 11 3 ASHLAND 100 010 0 — 2 3 6 Layne and Ratliff; Akers and Campbell. W— Layne. L—Akers. 2B—Miller (R), Layne (R).