BY MIKE URSERY
The Harrisburg Lady Bulldogs (8-13) bid farewell to six seniors, sending them out on a high note in a 7-5 win over the Sturgeon Lady Bulldogs (11-10) on Sept. 27.
The home Lady Bulldogs squashed a four-run rally by Sturgeon in the top of the fifth inning. Harrisburg led 6-1 when the inning began.
The game against Sturgeon was Harrisburg’s final home game of the season. Madelyn Fritts, Payton Drake, Hope Murray, Kayla Bradshaw, Emily Sutherland and Hannah Sutherland were all recognized after the game ended.
“The seniors, on their last night, played well,” Harrisburg head coach Chris Ackman said. “Not only that, but for four years, they worked really hard. This is a traditional rivalry. It’s a great night to have Senior Night. We came out and played well.”
Fritts started in the circle for the Lady Bulldogs. She pitched seven innings, allowing five runs on eight hits. She struck out eight.
“My defense definitely had my back tonight,” Fritts said. “It definitely showed. They made a lot of good plays. Good things happened out there tonight, so I had a lot of confidence in them.”
The other seniors made contributions in the game. Emily Sutherland went 3-for-3 with an RBI. Drake and Murray each had an RBI, as well.
Drake drove in the first run of the game, in the bottom of the second. She hit a single into center field that allowed freshman Halle Baden to score from second.
In the same inning, freshman Olivia Fischer hit a bases-loaded double to deep center. Two runs scored. A miscommunication at third prevented a third run from scoring.
Bradshaw stopped at third base, while Fischer ran towards third. Bradshaw then tried to run hom while Fischer ran back to second. Bradshaw was tagged out between third base and home.
Harrisburg led 3-0 after two innings.
Emily Sutherland drove in a run in the bottom of the third to extend the lead to 4-0.
The score became 6-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning. Fischer hit her second RBI-double, to deep right field, allowing Drake to score from first.
Fritts followed in the lineup and hit a single to center.
Harrisburg kept the visiting Lady Bulldogs off the basepaths for most of the game, but not in the fifth inning.
Sturgeon senior Rachel Guilford led off the inning by laying down a bunt, reaching first base.
Guilford stole second, and junior Emma Bright drove her home with a double to left field. The score was 6-2 at that point.
The score became 6-3 when Bright scored from third on a sacrifice fly from senior Kaylee Cranmer.
Senior Emily Butyenik hit an RBI-single to center, driving in the third run of the inning to make the score become 6-4.
Senior Zoe Thomas drew a walk with the bases loaded to pull Sturgeon within one run.
The bases were loaded with two outs when Guilford went to the plate for the second time in the inning. She hit a soft ground ball back to Fritts, who threw home for the third out, keeping Harrisburg’s lead intact.
Murray drove in an insurance run for the home Lady Bulldogs in the bottom of the fifth. She hit into a fielder’s choice with runners at first and third. Baden scored from third.
Fritts retired the visiting Lady Bulldogs in order in the top of the sixth inning. Drake was responsible for those three outs.
She scooped up a grounder and threw to first for the first out, then caught two infield fly balls.
Fritts got Sturgeon freshman Taylor Harris to end the game in the seventh inning.
Harrisburg finished their regular season with games at Cairo on Sep. 28, and North Shelby on Oct. 3.
The Lady Bulldogs finished the regular season with a 25-11 win at North Shelby in what Ackman called an emotional game.
Harrisburg put up 10 runs in the top of the second inning.
Bradshaw began the scoring in the top of the second with a bases-loaded single. That allowed Emily Southerland to score from third.
Fischer and Fritts both grounded out, but drove in runs. Baden drove in two runs with an RBI-double.
Drake added an RBI-double later in the inning.
After the 10-run second inning, Harrisburg put up seven more runs in the third, putting the game out of reach for North Shelby.
Baden started with an RBI-single to drive in her third run of the game.
Griggs drove in two more runs with an RBI-single. Fritts was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, and Heuer drove in a run on a fielder’s choice.
Baden finished the game 3-for-4 with four RBIs. Griggs and Bradshaw both went 2-for-3 in the game.
Eleven different players recorded a hit in the game. Thirteen players reached base.
The Lady Bulldogs begin the Class 1 District 8 tournament with a game against Paris on Oct. 4. It begins at 5:30 p.m. The winner will play Cairo on Oct. 5.
All Class 1 District 8 tournament games are played at Sturgeon.