Senior pitcher Kristen Cook brings one home for the Lady Rams.
Senior pitcher Kristen Cook brings one home for the Lady Rams.
By Rocky Higginbotham

Kemper County Messenger

The end result for Kemper Academy’s softball team in a pair of rematches last week was the same as in a season-opening tournament.

But there was no doubt the Lady Rams had a different look to them.

Kemper had its highest hit total of the season in a 9-5 loss to Newton County Academy last Tuesday, then the Lady Rams blew that out of the water in a 24-9 romp over Starkville Academy last Wednesday.

Kemper was blanked 10-0 by NCA in a season-opening tournament at Oak Hill three days before the Lady Rams hosted the Lady Generals in their home-opener last Tuesday. This time, KA banged out 11 hits and kept things close throughout, and followed that up with their second 15-run win over Class AAA Starkville Academy this season.

“The improvement we had from Saturday to Tuesday was like night and day,” Kemper coach Robert Luke said. “I knew they had it in them. We just have to keep improving.”

KA actually out-hit Newton 11-9, but the Lady Generals’ aggression on the bases and in the small-ball game (at one point four consecutive NCA hitters bunted and successfully reached base) was the difference.

And, the Lady Rams gave up five unearned runs in both of their contests last week.

“We had three very costly errors at Starkville — that’s how they scored most of their runs,” Luke said. “If we can cut down on those and the mental mistakes, I think we’re headed in the right direction.

“And we ran the bases ourselves better against them, but still have a lot of improvements to make.”

Newton, which improved to 6-0, got an unearned run in the first inning and never trailed last Tuesday. But it was a 2-1 game after four innings, and the Lady Generals didn’t pull away until a five-run spot in the top of the sixth.

That made it 9-2, but Kemper still scored three times in the home half of the sixth and had the tying run on deck to keep things interesting.

Alyssa Gully, Libba Dudley, Sara Gaylord and Jordan Gully all had two hits for Kemper – while Jena Bobo belted a two-run triple.

Bobo, Dudley and Jordan Gully each scored once; Alyssa Gully scored and had one RBI; and Gaylord drove in two runs.

Allie Redmond added one hit and one run and Kristen Cook also had a hit. Cook went the distance and took the pitching loss.

Wednesday at Starkville, Redmond belted four hits – including a triple and a double – to go with five RBIs and three runs scored to lead the way.

KA had a season-high 17 hits, with Alyssa Gully getting three to go with three runs scored and three RBIs.

Bobo singled, doubled, scored three times and drove in three; Cook singled, tripled, scored three times and drove in two; Dudley had two hits, four runs and an RBI; Karley Clark had two hits, two runs and three RBIs; Anna Morgan King singled, scored twice and drove in two; Gaylord had one hit, three runs and an RBI; and Jordan Gully scored and drove in one.

Cook (3-3) was the winning pitcher, striking out nine hitters.

Kemper built a commanding 9-0 lead before Starkville scored five times in the bottom of the third to make a game of it. The Lady Volunteers were still within 13-8 after five innings – but then the Lady Rams exploded for 11 runs in the top of the sixth to blow it wide open.

At 3-3, the Lady Rams have now exceeded their win total from last year, when they finished 2-9.