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INDEPENDENCE –– They call 1-0 ballgames “pitchers’ duels,” and this one certainly fit into that category. But pitchers’ duels would never end unless somebody hit and somebody fielded. Grayson County got just enough of both.
A key pair of hits gave the Blue Devils the game’s only run in the fifth inning, and the lone score was able to stand up thanks in part to some fine defensive efforts behind a shutout performance by pitcher Sarah Eller in a 1-0 trimming of Floyd County Thursday at the Grayson County Rec Park.
Eller allowed just four hits, struck out seven and walked one, getting key outs that became bigger as the low-scoring game wore on. Grayson County catcher Brady Cassell caught two Floyd runners on attempted steals, including one with a runner on third base to end the top of the first.
With runners on second and third and one out in the fifth, Eller coaxed easy pop-ups to escape.
But undoubtedly the defensive play of the game happened at the most critical time. With one out and a runner on first in the top of the seventh, and Grayson County (4-3) clinging to a 1-0 lead, Kate Worley drilled an opposite-field shot into the rightfield corner. Laken Parks tracked down the drive and stretched out to make a tremendous running catch, preventing what would have at the very least been a first-and-third situation, or at most a tie ballgame.
Eller then fanned Holly Britt to finish off the Buffaloes (4-2).
Grayson County had its scoring opportunities as well, outhitting the Buffaloes 7-4, but came through with the game’s only run in the bottom of the fifth.
Floyd County pitcher Christene Phillips struck out seven and walked none, but pinch hitter Mary Meier led off the home fifth with a triple deep into the leftfield corner. No. 9 hitter Destiny Shupe got the game-winning RBI when she pivoted as if to bunt, pulled back and laced a sharp single up the middle.
Grayson had wasted a bases-loaded, one-out chance in the second. The Blue Devils got consecutive singles by Eller, Cassell and Brandy Goad, but none were enough to move more than a base at a time. Phillips got out of the mess with a strikeout and a ground ball.
Hayley Lawrence looped a hustle double into shallow right-center to lead off the third but was left stranded.
Seven different Blue Devils had one hit apiece. Amanda Whitlow was 2-for-3 for the Buffaloes.