KIMBERLY — A routine fly ball that fell between two Mortimer Jordan fielders was a sign of things to come, as the fourth-ranked Blue Devils lost to No. 1 Curry by a 7-3 score in Thursday softball action.
The play came with two out in the second inning and no score and a runner on second base. First baseman Jordan McPherson popped up to short left field, but the ball plopped to the ground with two fielders failing to call for the ball, allowing the runner to score.
That play opened the floodgates, as pitcher Kadie Justice followed up with a base hit, then second baseman Kaylee Horton smacked a triple off the fence in right center that scored two runs.
That seemed to rattle Jordan ace hurler Bailey Murphy, who had been going fairly easily through the Curry lineup until the misplayed fly ball. She allowed another run in the third, and had two runners on base with one out in the fourth when coach Shawn Maze took Murphy out in favor of Natalie Johnsey.
The reliever yielded two more runs in the inning and another in the fifth, but steadied herself and her team in the late going, as the Devils got run-scoring singles by Brooke Hill and Alyson Linn in the fifth inning, and another RBI single by Johnsey herself in the seventh.
But the Devils never could fully solve the puzzle presented them by the Curry pitcher, as Justice prevailed for five strikeouts. She gave up just two hits through the first four innings, as coach Annah Cagle opted to give sophomore ace Ashlee Swindle a rest.
Horton finished the day with a 3-for-4 effort at the plate, driving in three runs. Justice was 2-for-3 and reached on an error, scoring two runs as she batted in the ninth spot in the order.
Murphy re-entered the game as a batter in the seventh, and was 2-for-4 at the plate. Alexandra Copeland was 2-for-3. Morgan Cantrell also had a double.
Johnsey worked 3-2/3 innings, striking out three while giving up two hits and three walks.
Jordan (18-11, 2-3 area) travels to Pisgah on Friday.