HERRIN — Harrisburg rallied big in the fifth and sixth innings to go home with a 9-5 victory over Herrin in prep softball on Monday.
This was the second battle of the year after the Bulldogs shutout Herrin, 7-0, back on April 9.
Harrisburg (21-3) scored four runs in the fifth inning. After Karsyn Davis led off the inning with a home run to center field, the Bulldogs strung together three straight singles to push their lead to 7-2.
The Bulldogs stayed hot in the sixth inning, as lefty Kerrigan Payne stepped to the plate with a runner on and showed some opposite field power with a two-run homer to put Harrisburg ahead for good.
“You have to hit the ball to win games,” said Harrisburg coach Red Stafford. “We struggled Saturday against Carmi-White County and didn’t hit the ball very well. I thought we bounced back well today and did a good job of hitting the ball with runners in scoring position.”
Harrisburg racked up 13 hits on the day. Payne, Davis and Mya King all had multiple hits for the Bulldogs.
Payne pitched Harrisburg to victory. She went seven innings, allowing five runs on seven hits and striking out four. The freshman pitched seven scoreless innings against Herrin in her first meeting with the Tigers.
“I think having faced (Herrin) once already helped her out there today,” Stafford said. “We know the middle of their order can hit and of course Karsyn (Davis), my senior catcher, does a nice job with my freshman pitcher. (Davis) keeps (Payne) calm.
“Herrin is well-coached and a tough matchup every time we play them.”
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Ali Paintner took the loss for Herrin. She went all seven innings, allowing 13 hits and nine runs while striking out two.
The Tigers scattered seven hits in the game. Paintner, Molly Childers, and Raegen Gosha each managed multiple hits for Herrin.
Gosha socked a homer to left field in the fifth inning to cut Herrin’s deficit to just three runs.
Herrin had runners at second and third in the sixth inning after the Bulldogs extended their lead to five runs at the top of the inning. With two outs, Gosha came to the plate with two runners in scoring position and a chance to pull the Tigers closer, but with an open base, Stafford made the call to intentionally walk Gosha and load the bases.
That brought junior Caitlyn Kochan to the plate and Stafford’s gutsy decision panned out, as Payne got Kochan to ground out to second base to end the inning.
“(Gosha) always hits the ball hard every time she faces us and of course, she’d already had the home run. The kid behind her had one hit, but probably not going to hit the ball out of the park like Gosha would.
“Some days it’s just better to be lucky than to be good.”
Harrisburg look to make it three wins in a row Tuesday as the Bulldogs travel to Massac County.
Herrin will take Tuesday off and then be on the road for Wednesday’s matchup against Du Quoin.