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Key doubles help Farmington separate from North County

Farmington catcher Jayden Tucker connects for a three-run double during sixth inning softball action against North County on Thursday in Bonne Terre. (Matt King,

BONNE TERRE – Jayden Tucker stepped to the plate with the bases loaded, and for the second straight game, cleared them off with a timely extra-base hit.

Her three-run double toward the left-field corner on Thursday was a punishing blow against rival North County, and teammates could not wait to celebrate.

A rare but correct interference call prevented Tucker from officially circling the bases, but would not dampen the Knights’ spirits as they secured a 10-1 road victory.

Farmington (3-4, 1-0) greeted right-hander Sammy Waller with four consecutive hits at the outset, and remained in control after handing an instant 3-0 lead to winning hurler Avery Graham.

North County pitcher Sammy Waller watches the right fielder before retreating to first base with a single during third inning softball action against Farmington on Thursday in Bonne Terre. (Matt King,

Elly Robbins capped the outcome with a two-run double in the seventh, and finished 2-for-5 while also reaching safely on two of the seven defensive errors committed by the host squad.

North County (0-4, 0-2) competed for a fourth straight day, and generated its lone run in the home half of the first when leadoff batter Kensey Marler doubled to right-center and Waller singled.

The Knights carried a 4-1 lead through five innings, and received a boost from the bottom of the lineup while pulling away with matching three-run rallies.

Audrie Morgan started the sixth with a single, and doubled home Emilee Gillam in the seventh. No. 9 batter Jocelyn Grimes enhanced both sequences with infield hits, and was 3-for-4 overall.

Tucker made it 7-1 with her second hit of the contest, and tried to score when an incoming throw bounced away from catcher Madi Pyeatt and into foul territory.

Farmington runner Elly Robbins (3) slides safely past North County catcher Madi Pyeatt during sixth inning softball action on Thursday in Bonne Terre. (Matt King,

Multiple Farmington players encroached upon the batter’s box once Robbins slid across the dish, and disrupted the next throw from Pyeatt to her covering pitcher.

The sizable lead was calmly protected by Graham, who registered five strikeouts and utilized help from her defense to deal a complete game three-hitter.

Senior shortstop Jayce Jarvis turned a scalded line drive by Amy Layton into a double play on a leaping catch in the third, and denied her again with a charging throw on the run.

Graham retired 14 of her last 16 batters faced – interrupted only by two walks in the fifth – and worked through a bout of potential trouble in the second.

Pyeatt reached safely when her bunt was booted, then successfully stole second and third bases on back-to-back pitches with no outs.

But the Lady Raiders were unable to reduce their three-run deficit at the time. Autumn Bullock belted a sharp bullet that Grimes caught in center, leaving Pyeatt no chance to tag up and advance.

Waller was supported by two stellar plays from shortstop Raegan Pierce in the fifth inning. The first was a difficult catch while ranging far into foul ground.

Pierce then fielded a ground ball, and turned a double play up the middle with Grimes bearing down. Pyeatt added a twisting catch on a pop up near the plate, and earlier caught a runner stealing.

North County shortstop Raegan Pierce beats Farmington runner Avery Graham (18) to second base while turning a double play as infielder Addy Goggin looks on during fifth inning softball action on Thursday in Bonne Terre. (Matt King,

But the Knights were rewarded for aggressive swings against the often accurate command of Waller, who fanned two batters and yielded 12 hits while lasting the duration.

Robbins and Tucker singled ahead of an RBI hit through the left side by Jarvis. Shelby Bowling increased that 1-0 lead with a two-run double into the right-center alley.

North County gifted an unearned run in the second as a chopper handcuffed Bullock and consecutive fly balls were dropped by left fielder Emma Roper.

Roper atoned with an excellent diving grab in the seventh as Jarvis was bidding for her third hit. Olivia Hartupee rounded out the Farmington attack with a single.

Waller was the most effective weapon for North County, going 2-for-2 with a walk. The last four spots in the order were a combined 0-for-19.

Farmington third baseman Shelby Bowling throws out a North County batter during fourth inning softball action on Thursday in Bonne Terre. (Matt King,

Farmington outfielder Audrie Morgan singles during sixth inning softball action against North County on Thursday in Bonne Terre.

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