During her second at bat Wednesday afternoon, Emma Roach had to jump out of the way of the ball to avoid an inside pitch. The home plate umpire told her to take a deep breath and have fun before she got back in the box.
The United Christian Academy sophomore had plenty to smile about after going 3-for-4 with four RBI and three runs scored to lead her team to a 12-2 victory over St. Anne’s-Belfield at Craig Field.
“This is the first year we’ve had her lead off,” United Christian coach Ray Powell said. “Usually she’s our No. 4 stick, but because of her determination and hustle, I put her in that spot. She’s done a great job for us. She’s batting over .500.”
The Saints’ bats were making the most noise early on. STAB scored in the bottom of the first to take a 1-0 lead. Anna Kilby led off with a bloop single to center and moved to third on an error and a wild pitch. Two batters later, Wynter Morris hit a sharp grounder to second to plate Kilby for the early lead.
Morris was effective in the circle as well. The eighth-grader struck out four batters in the first 2 1/3 innings before the Crusaders’ bats came to life in the third.
Lauren Morris was hit by a pitch with one out and Roach followed with a single to the wall in left to score Morris and tie the game at 1-1. Kaylee Shipp drew a bases-loaded walk to score Roach and Bridget Powell came around to score on a wild pitch to give United Christian (5-0) a 3-1 lead in the third.
Ray Powell chalked the Crusaders’ slow start to limited at-bats lately.
“We haven’t played for a couple of weeks, so I knew our bat speed was going to be a little slow the first couple innings,” Powell said. “But we came around in like the third inning, saw some good pitches and had some good swings.”
The hot bats continued for UCA over the next two innings as the Crusaders batted around in each inning to break the game wide open.
Emma Roach and Hanna Roach each had two-runs singles to key a six-run outburst in the fourth with a two-run single off reliever Olivia Elam. Bridget Powell added an RBI single during the rally as the Crusaders led 9-1.
STAB got a run back in the bottom of the inning as Morris belted a solo homer over the wall in center field to trim the lead to 9-2.
The momentum would be short-lived as UCA responded with three runs in the top of the fifth to extend the lead to 12-2. Deanna Roach drove in two runs with a single and Emma Roach added another RBI base hit to drive in her fourth run of the game.
That was more than enough support for Bridget Powell in the circle. The senior southpaw allowed an earned run on three hits in 4 1/3 innings of work. Deanna Roach and Emily Colvin retired the final two batters to preserve the victory.
Ray Powell was impressed with the work of his veteran hurler.
“She’s been pitching for us since she was in the sixth grade,” Powell said. “A lot of teams have trouble with left-handed pitchers because you don’t see a lot of them and she does a great job for us. She’s a senior and I’m going to hate to see her go.”
Bridget Powell had two hits and scored two runs in the win. Alden Knight had two hits and scored a run, while Hanna Roach and Deanna Roach each drove in a pair. Colvin scored two runs for the Crusaders.
Morris allowed three earned runs on four hits and struck out four in 3 2/3 innings of work for the Saints. Katy Smith, Kilby and Morris each had one hit to lead the STAB offense.