BONNE TERRE – Cheyenne Dickens pulled three consecutive off-speed pitches into foul territory with authority while facing Fredericktown hurler Kiley Elders in the third inning.
The North County first baseman waited a fraction of a second longer on the next offering, and launched it over the left-center fence for a pivotal home run.
The Lady Raiders produced a pair of three-run rallies Thursday, and Kennedy Kohler twirled a three-hitter for a 7-1 triumph after both teams entered the contest unbeaten.
Emma Becker finished 2-for-3 with a walk, while Kohler and Dickens were each 2-for-4 atop the lineup. North County (7-0) received at least one hit from eight different players.
Jill Wruck put her team in front on a ground out after Emilie Morgan sliced a one-out triple that landed near the right fielder and kicked toward the corner.
Kohler did her part to solidify the lead, taking a shutout into the sixth inning and striking out seven. She retired 10 straight batters before plunking the foot of opposing catcher Brezlyn Boswell in the fifth.
Dickens made it 3-0 with her two-run shot after Kohler singled up the middle, and Emma Keen singled home Becker three batters later with two outs.
Fredericktown (4-1) averted defeat on Wednesday when Alivia Clark crushed a walk-off, three-run homer against Van Buren, but struggled to solve Kohler despite attacking early in counts.
Clark shined defensively at third base one afternoon later with a combination of eight assists and putouts. She also lined a missile that deflected off a glove for an infield hit in the opening frame.
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Elders allowed five earned runs on 11 hits, and picked up two strikeouts over six innings in defeat. The Lady Blackcats committed three errors behind her, but also made some excellent plays.
Center fielder Alex Sikes cut down a runner at second in the fifth, and made a sliding catch on a shallow fly ball to end the sixth. A strong throw from Trista Wagganer in left erased Becker while going first to third.
Fredericktown mounted its lone threat in the top of the sixth. Wagganer guided a leadoff double along the left-field line, and advanced to third as Sikes slapped a single to left-center.
Makayla Tourville made it 4-1 with a sacrifice fly, but Kohler limited the damage when two more fly balls stranded runners at first and second.
A dropped infield fly introduced a scoring chance for North County during the home half. Wruck sprinted out her bunt for a single, and Kohler grounded an RBI hit with the bases loaded.
Becker capped the run total by driving in two with a single. No. 9 batter Taizja Lawless crossed the dish after reaching base twice on a single and walk.
The Lady Blackcats went quietly in the seventh. Second baseman Brianna Morgan adjusted her route to a deflected ground ball, and still flipped in time to obtain the first out before Kohler ended it with a called strikeout.
Kiersdan Davis singled and reached on an error in four plate appearances for the Lady Raiders, who will battle Wright City, Sullivan and Northwest in pool play at the Sullivan Tournament on Friday.