Boonville wins in 4-2 in 10 innings against Fulton in district opener
Boonville Lady Pirates softball coach Christie Zoeller said she doesn’t like to use cliches.
But after Wednesday night’s 4-2 win in 10 innings against the Fulton Hornets in the opening round of the Class 3 District 6 Tournament at Moberly, Zoeller said this was a great team win.
“It took every single person to get this win,” Zoeller said. “I think this is the team that we were about two weeks ago when we had players get quarantined and we just struggled finding it, but I couldn’t be prouder to come out in this first game of districts and kind of put it all together essentially. Abby Pulliam pitched an amazing game. She struggled a little bit there in the second or third inning and walked a few, but our defense really stepped it up tonight and we came up with big plays that we just hadn’t been making and tonight we did.”
While improving to 11-11 on the season, the Lady Pirates will now get to test their resolve against Hallsville in the semifinal round on Wednesday. Although Boonville and Fulton split during the regular season, the Lady Pirates fell to Hallsville earlier in the 2020 campaign in a close game 6-5.
Hallsville comes in at 18-3 on the season as the No. 1 seed.
Zoeller said the girls just have to come out and play hard against Hallsville. “I think it will be a different outing for us,” Zoeller said. “I think mentally that was a game the night before, where we played an extra inning game against Southern Boone and won. I think we were all just kind of tired honestly from the night before. It was the first week of the season and we weren’t used to playing that many games in a row and going nine innings the night before. If we play like we did tonight, I feel like we can beat anybody we are up against.”
The Lady Pirates proved that against Fulton, although it wasn’t easy at times.
As expected with the wind blowing in, hits were hard to come by by both teams. Fulton wound up out-hitting Boonville 4-3 but also finished the game with five errors compared to just three for the Lady Pirates.
Fulton scored the first run of the game, albeit unearned, in the second inning on three walks and a wild pitch to go up 1-0.
However, in the top half of the third, Boonville got the run back when senior Alexis Trigg reached on a dropped fly ball by the second baseman and later scored on the fly ball to left by Rachel Massa to tie the game at 1-all.
Nerves, or the wind, struck Boonville again in the bottom half of the third when lead off batter Rylee Hagens reached on a fly ball that dropped right in front of the plate. Two batters later, the Lady Pirates committed another miscue on the infield on a non-throw to first, which allowed both runners to move up a base with one out. Haley Clavert then hit in a fielder’s choice to short to bring in one run to make it 2-1.
Both teams went into hibernation after that with neither team able to do much offensively until the seventh inning. That’s when Boonville-down to its final three outs-rallied back with one run on singles to left by Brooke Eichelberger and Daylynn Baker. Jordyn Fuemmeler then hit into a fielder’s choice to the shortstop to score Eichelberger to tie the game at 2-all.
Zoeller said that was huge. “I felt just pride in this team and had to fight back tears a couple of times just because we were finally playing the softball that I know these girls can play,” Zoeller said. “They didn’t get down on themselves or give up when that pinch hitter got on. To me it looked like the ball hit her but then to stay centered, to stay grounded, and come back and get out of that with runners on second and third with one out-that was huge. Daylynn had that amazing catch in center field and that was big.”
Boonville had only one hit over the next-two innings when Brooke Eichelberger reached on a bloop single to right in the top of the ninth. Meanwhile, in the bottom of the ninth, Fulton had two runners on after a throwing error and a single with one out only to be denied when pitcher Abby Pulliam got the next two batters on fly outs.
However, that all changed in the 10th inning. After a ground out to start the inning, Alexis Albin came off the bench for a big at bat and reached after being hit by a pitch. Then, what many feel was the play of the game, Massa put down a perfect bunt right in front of the plate to put runners on first and second with one out. Meanwhile, after a sacrifice bunt by Pulliam, Emma West came back with a line drive off the glove of the shortstop for two runs to make it 4-2.
Fulton never got any closer as Pulliam came back and retired the side in the bottom of the 10th for the win.
Zoeller said Albin getting hit by that pitch was huge. “The next two batters bunted to get runners in scoring position and then Emma comes up with that great little bloop to left almost to score two runs, and the wind really did play because some of our bloop little hits it pulled it back in and took it away from the outfielder,” Zoeller said. “I feel like the wind was our best friend tonight. Also, you have to think that the wind helped Abby’s pitches so I do think the wind didn’t hurt us.”
Pulliam picked up the win in the circle for Boonville while Sydney Hedgpath took the loss for Fulton. In 10 innings, Pulliam struck out seven batters and gave up two runs on four hits and four walks. Hedgpath, meanwhile, pitched all 10 innings and allowed four runs on three hits and one walk while striking out three.
Rachel Massa, Brooke Eichelberger and Daylynn Baker each had one hit in the game for Boonville. Massa and Fuemmeler also drove in one run.
For Fulton, Rylee Hagens, Paige Clines, Rylee Baker and Kayla Neal each had one hit.