By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
Mortimer Jordan freshman pitcher Bailey Murphy was cruising along at Hayden on Thursday afternoon, sitting on a slim one-run lead but striking out seven Wildcat batters in five innings.
Then in the sixth inning, something — perhaps several somethings — went wrong for Murphy and went right for the Wildcats.
Hayden unloaded on the Blue Devils for seven hits, six of them with two outs, and Murphy came out with dizziness as the Wildcats thumped fourth-ranked Jordan 7-1.
It’s the first time Hayden has defeated the Devils since — well...
Can you remember, Devils coach Shawn Maze?
A long pause for thought, then: “No, I can’t.”
How about you, Hayden coach John Simmons?
Another pause, and then: “It’s been a long time.”
The Wildcats not only benefitted from the big sixth inning, but a calm, solid performance from pitcher Caitlin Kirkland. She went through the Jordan batting order in the first three innings, only allowing a lead-off walk to Shelby Maze, who then stole second but was thrown out trying to swipe third by Hayden catcher Lori Swann.
Kirkland ran into her own problems in the fourth inning, when Maze led off with a double to right field. She moved to third on a single by Morgan Cantrell, followed by a walk to Murphy to load the bases. A well-executed squeeze play by batter Alyson Linn scored Maze for the first run of the game.
Jordan (7-2, 1-1 area) had a chance to tack on another run on a sacrifice fly, but a base-running error foiled that plan.
Despite the fact that a pitcher’s duel seemed to be brewing, Kirkland wasn’t fazed by the one-run deficit.
“I knew that if I could just hold [Jordan], my team would come through at the plate,” Kirkland said.
They did — and how.
The Cats started the inning at the top of the order, as Maleah Hargett hit a single to right. Murphy got the next two batters out on a grounder to third and a fly ball to center, but that’s where the trouble began.
A hit by Kirkland brought in Hargett from second, then Madison McMickin followed with a hit, and then Kelly Byrd knocked a double to left to score Kirkland. Brooke Meadows then smacked a hard single that brought in two runs. Meadows later came in on an overthrow from center field.
Swann got on base when her third strike got past the catcher, and Allisa Phillips followed that with a single. Hargett came up again and brought home both with her second hit of the inning.
That’s when Maze realized that Murphy was not feeling well, and pulled her out of the game. Natalie Johnsey finished it off without further damage.
“We earned two or three of those runs, and then the floodgates opened,” Simmons said.
Kirkland finished with eight strikeouts, allowing two hits and three walks.
“Give credit to Kirkland. She threw the ball well, and we had a hard time getting anything off of her,” Maze said. “But this loss is nothing to panic about.”
Hargett led the Wildcats (8-2-1, 2-0 area) at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a stolen base. Meadows was 2-for-3 and drove in two.