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MAC trades comeback wins with East Central

FARMINGTON – The foundation was established for another unpredictable season of Division II Region 16 softball when rivals Mineral Area and East Central met on Thursday.

Thriving offenses and stunning lead changes stamped a wild doubleheader that saw the Lady Cardinals end a six-game losing streak in comeback fashion before coughing up a late lead in game two.

Mineral Area rallied from seven runs down in the opener, and prevailed 12-11 when sophomore Kaitlin Orr lined a clinching two-run single in the bottom of the eighth inning.

East Central squandered four home runs – including a pair from freshman shortstop Megan Micke – and an 8-1 advantage as a persistent breeze blew toward left field.

Lilly Pecaut finished 3-for-3 with two runs scored, and Sydney Parker went 3-for-5 with a double to pace the Lady Cardinals, who began chipping away in the fourth inning.

Madison Binkard lined an RBI double, and Olivia Adams followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 8-3. But a needed dose of power highlighted an explosive sixth for Mineral Area.

Ali Law sparked a six-run frame with a solo shot to left-center that marked the first of six consecutive hits against Falcons hurler Eden Henry.

Karlie Missey, Orr and Pecaut gathered more momentum with singles, cutting the margin to 8-5, and Binkard greeted reliever Abby Ray with a tying three-run blast.

Kaelan Bradley followed with a single to center, and Samantha Ratledge raced home with the go-ahead run on Parker’s slow roller to third.

Brooke Gardner recorded three strikeouts and allowed two runs on four hits in 4 2/3 innings of relief work, but was pulled in a no-decision after Henry singled to begin the East Central seventh.

A misplayed ground ball enabled the tying run to score, but the Falcons were temporarily denied the lead when Orr cut down a second runner after shifting to right field.

East Central regained an 11-9 edge in the eighth when Ashley Blanton homered and Micke capped her 4-for-5 effort with an RBI single off MAC lefty Aubrianna Jones.

But the Lady Cardinals continued to battle, and pushed across three runs to prevail in the home half. A ball that should have been caught landed for a Ratledge single between hits by Bradley and Parker to load the bases.

Law brought MAC closer with an RBI ground out, and Missey drew a two-out walk to bring up Orr, who fouled off two pitches before serving the winning hit through the middle.

Binkard compiled four RBI while making two excellent backhand plays from the shortstop hole, and Adams went 2-for-3 with two RBI in the victory.

India Price started in the circle for the Lady Cards, but allowed seven runs over 1 1/3 innings. She briefly clutched her back following an errant throw to first base, and exited the game moments later.

Henry smashed a three-run home run in the first inning, and leadoff batter Jensen Crenshaw made it 4-0 with an RBI double in the second.

Micke launched her own three-run blast to center two batters later, and homered again off Gardner in the fourth to produce the largest separation.

Mineral Area wasted a chance to sweep as 20th-ranked East Central scored four times with two outs in the seventh inning to secure a 10-8 triumph.

The Falcons (18-4, 2-2) were down to their last strike trailing 8-6 after Parker leaped to catch a line drive and doubled off a runner at second with the bases loaded.

But Crenshaw singled cleanly to drive in pinch-runner Makayla Schumann, and Monica Kelley put her squad ahead with a two-run single.

Micke again finished 4-for-5 overall, and added an insurance RBI double during a frame that saw the Lady Cardinals (7-16, 1-1) commit three errors.

Jones notched her third strikeout to keep the game tied at 6-6 after East Central loaded the bases at a crucial juncture in the sixth. But she ultimately yielded 13 hits in the loss.

Mineral Area capitalized on two miscues at shortstop in the home half as singles from Bradley and Ratledge created a two-run lead.

The tying runs reached scoring position after Orr bunted for a hit and Binkard looped a single in the bottom of the seventh, but a sharp line out to second base ended the game.

Bradley finished 3-for-4 while Binkard, Ratledge and Orr added two hits each for MAC. Brooke Eaves reached base twice on a single and error.

Ratledge belted a three-run homer to put Mineral Area ahead 3-2 in the third after Micke has taken Jones deep in the top of the frame.

Pecaut singled and scored two runs as the Lady Cardinals finished an 8-game homestand at 1-7. The teams will rematch in Union on April 18. 

Mineral Area freshman shortstop Madison Binkard tags out East Central runner Samantha White (18) on a stolen base attempt after receiving the throw from catcher Karlie Missey during seventh inning action in game one of Thursday's Region 16 doubleheader.

Mineral Area freshman shortstop Madison Binkard tags out East Central runner Samantha White (18) on a stolen base attempt after receiving the throw from catcher Karlie Missey during seventh inning action in game one of Thursday’s Region 16 doubleheader.

Mineral Area freshman Ali Law connects for a solo home run while leading off the sixth inning of game one against East Central on Thursday.

Mineral Area freshman Ali Law connects for a solo home run while leading off the sixth inning of game one against East Central on Thursday.

Mineral Area sophomore center fielder Kaitlin Orr (5) tracks down an East Central fly ball near the fence during doubleheader action on Thursday.

Mineral Area sophomore center fielder Kaitlin Orr (5) tracks down an East Central fly ball near the fence during doubleheader action on Thursday.

Matt King is the sports editor for the Daily Journal. Contact him at mking@dailyjournalonine.com

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