BONNE TERRE – A base-running mistake appeared to dash the hopes of North County to rally while tied with Ste. Genevieve in the bottom of the third inning on Tuesday.
But the Lady Raiders responded emphatically after a double play emptied the bases with two outs, and maintained their position atop the MAAA softball standings.
Eight runs crossed the plate after nine consecutive batters reached safely, and North County duplicated that output again in the fourth inning to prevail 19-4 at home.
No. 9 hitter Cheyenne Dickens slugged her second home run of the season during the initial outburst – a grand slam that narrowly cleared the fence in center field – and finished 2-for-2 with five RBI.
The two-out magic started with singles by Lexi Adams and Samantha Payne. A walk to Kiersdan Davis by reliever Britani Clanton preceded a go-ahead RBI hit by Jayden Neubauer.
Center fielder Sydney Oehlert nearly tracked down the ensuing long drive by Dickens, but collided with the fence as the ball carried out.
Emma Becker added an RBI double three batters later, and winning pitcher Michaela Mason singled home two more for an 11-3 cushion.
Becker finished 3-for-3 with three runs scored while Adams and Payne tallied two hits each for North County (10-4, 5-0), which bounced back after being no-hit by Festus on Monday.
Ste. Genevieve (7-7, 2-4) was riding some positive momentum after winning the St. Pius Tournament last weekend, and quickly jumped ahead of Mason in the opening frame.
Sally Grieshaber commenced her 3-for-3 effort as the lead-off batter with a first-pitch single. Julia Koetting lined an RBI double down the left-field line, and Emma Nickelson’s single made it 2-0.
North County pulled even with two unearned runs against Dragons starter Alyssa Huber. Maizie Tyree scored on a misplayed fly ball, and Becker came home when a throw from the catcher eluded Huber.
Dickens put the Lady Raiders ahead 3-2 with a bloop single in the second, but Ste. Genevieve got a tying RBI double by Nickelson in the top of the third.
North County padded a seven-run advantage in the fourth against reliever Hannah Wilson. Kennedy Kohler gapped a three-RBI double, and Mason notched her third RBI on a sacrifice fly.
Payne pushed the difference to 18-4 with a two-run single to right, and Davis doubled her in to enforce the run rule.
Tyree was plunked by three separate Ste. Genevieve pitchers, and Davis was hit twice while reaching base four straight times. Both players scored three runs in the victory.
Mason allowed seven hit, struck out three and walked one over four innings in the circle. She escaped the third when Tyree ranged from shortstop into shallow left field to reel in a dangerous flare.
Davis hustled well into foul territory from third base to make a nice catch in fourth with two Ste. Genevieve runners aboard.
North County continues conference play at Fredericktown on Thursday, and will meet Farmington next Tuesday with an outright MAAA crown potentially at stake.
Koetting matched Nickelson by going 2-for-3 with two RBI for the Dragons as rain sprinkled throughout the contest.