Trailing 2-1 in the third, the Ponder Lady Lions used a pair of infield singles to get things rolling.
After Makayla James and Sage Stover reached on infield singles and Jessica Orozco walked, catcher Andie Beer broke the game open with a two-run double to left-center field to put Ponder on the way to the 14-4 victory over the Paradise Lady Panthers in the District 9-2A opener.
Ponder plated six runs in the third on four hits and a pair of Paradise errors. They added five more in the sixth to reach the run-rule.
Paradise pitcher Reagan Taylor said it was a tough third inning against the powerful Ponder lineup. Taylor was charged with all six runs in the frame, including the two that scored on a single by James against Shelby Lavigne in her second at-bat of the inning.
“It was difficult. They are strong hitters. I should have stepped up and relaxed,” Taylor said. “We’ve got to work hard in practice and push through it.”
James, the Lady Lions’ No. 9 hitter, went 3-for-4 with three RBIs.
Facing one of the district’s top returning pitchers, Ponder’s Jessica Orozco, Paradise held their own at the plate despite missing two of their top hitters – Jett Preather and Allie Rutledge. Paradise had six hits against Orozco, who recorded 13 strikeouts. She punched out eight in the first three innings.
“The last three innings we hit the ball. They made the outs,” said Paradise coach Karin Essig. “They are a good team. I’m proud of the kids – they kept swinging.”
Paradise struck first, taking a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning. After Shelby Barclay singled to right, Darla Walterscheid ripped an 0-2 pitch down the third-base line for a RBI double. When Ponder leftfielder James misplayed the ball, Walterscheid raced around to score to make it 2-0.
Ponder cut the lead in half in the bottom of the inning with a two-out, RBI triple by Madison Welch.
After its six-run third, Ponder added one in the fourth to take an 8-2 lead.
Paradise plated two in the top of the fifth to get back within four. Taylor drove home one of the runs with a triple to left-center.
Ponder put the game away with one in the bottom of the fifth and five in the sixth. Orozco ended the game with an RBI sacrifice fly to center.