POTOSI — The Mineral Area women’s softball team began defense of its back-to-back Region XVI titles with a chilly and convincing double-header sweep of rival Meramec on Wednesday.
The Lady Cardinals cranked out 25 combined hits while committing only one error, and rebounded from a pair of opening-day losses at Lindenwood with by posting victories of 9-3 and 13-5.
Returning all-region infielder Tori Henson highlighted the opener by going 3-for-4 with four RBI, and leadoff batter Allyson Luce matched Callie Dennis with two hits each to pace Mineral Area.
Alex Perry (1-1) fanned three batters and yielded seven hits to win game one after allowing just two hits during a hard-luck loss on Monday.
The sophomore ace escaped danger with timely strikeouts in the fourth and fifth innings after two Magic players reached scoring position, preserving a 5-3 Mineral Area lead.
Dennis doubled home Tristan Branch and catcher Jamie Bullock added a two-run single to extend the margin in the sixth. Perry completed the game with a scoreless seventh following a leadoff infield hit.
The Lady Cardinals netted three runs by stringing together four straight one-out singles in the second inning. Henson’s two-RBI single through the middle created a 4-0 advantage.
Speedy outfielder fielder Patsi Huebner slapped two hits and first baseman Nicole Molly totaled two RBI for Meramec, which tallied twice in the third after Jessica Schlichtig and Emily Allen coaxed back-to-back leadoff walks.
Luce and Perry each finished 3-for-3 at the plate in game two, which was abbreviated after Mineral Area erupted for seven runs in the fourth inning.
Winning pitcher Jennifer Hackworth (1-1) fanned three and overcame a rocky opening frame when the MAC defense allowed three Meramec batters to reach without hitting the ball through the infield.
The Lady Cardinals capitalized on three errors to pull even at 2-2 during their half of the first inning, then turned five straight two-out hits against hurler Erin Riley into a pivotal four-run outburst in the second.
Luce started the rally with a double that slammed off the center field fence, and Perry slashed a two-run triple along the right field chalkline before Dennis’ RBI single made it 6-2.
Huebner tripled and scored on Micaela King’s ensuing single to begin the Meramec third, but the Lady Cardinals maintained a 6-5 edge when Mahoney lined sharply to Luce in right-center.
Mineral Area stranded only four runners in the evening contest, and easily batted around during the fourth inning. Freshmen Taylre Scott and Tory Smith scored together when pinch-hitter Bullock ripped a key single to left.
The Lady Cardinals (2-2) will travel to Ullin, Ill. this afternoon for a twinbill against Shawnee before playing four home games this weekend. Region play resumes next Thursday against Florissant Valley.
Meramec 002 010 0 - 3 7 0
Mineral Area 130 113 x - 9 12 0
WP - Alex Perry 7ip 3r 3er 7h 3k 3bb.
LP - Dani Whitehead 6ip 9r 9er 12h 3k 4bb.
Meramec - Patsi Huebner 2-4, Kayla Mahoney 1-2, Dani Whitehead 1-3, Kelsey Lamb 1-3, Ally Kubel 1-4, Micaela King 1-4. 2b - Mahoney.
Mineral Area - Tori Henson 3-4, Callie Dennis 2-4, Allison Luce 2-4, Tristan Branch 1-1, Tory Smith 1-1, Emily Hanquist 1-1, Emilie Martin 1-2, Jamie Bullock 1-3. 2b - Dennis.
Meramec 203 00 - 5 7 4
Mineral Area 240 7x - 13 13 1
WP - Jennifer Hackworth 5ip 5r 4er 7h 3k 1bb.
LP - Erin Riley 3 2/3ip 13r 10er 13h 4k 2bb.
Meramec - Patsi Huebner 2-3, Nicole Molly 2-3, Micaela King 2-3, Jessica Schlichtig 1-2. 3b - Huebner.
Mineral Area - Allyson Luce 3-3, Alex Perry 3-3, Emily Hanquist 2-3, Callie Dennis 2-3, Jamie Bullock 1-1, Taylre Scott 1-3, Tori Henson 1-3. 2b - Luce. 3b - Perry.