One important aspect to being a winning â “ and even a championship caliber â “ team is defending the home turf. And it's particularly important when the team in question is the top-ranked squad in the state and much less one that is playing in its first home game in program history.
So it was fitting that No. 1 McCracken County was able to get things going at the plate and on the mound and knocked off Marshall County 8-2 Thursday at McCracken County High.
"It's exciting to win our first home game," said freshman Kalli Harris, who went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI. "It's definitely a step forward for us, because not a lot of people win their first home game. It's just really a big step for us with what we want to do this season."
The win was especially pleasing for McCracken County coach Tony Hayden because his team hadn't been on the field for 14 days since its last win, a 10-0 victory at Spanish Fort, Ala., on April 3.
"The biggest thing for us tonight was we hadn't played in two weeks and we haven't even been outside for most of those days," Hayden said. "We knew Marshall County would be coming in here ready to play and when we didn't score in the first inning I thought it was going to be one of those nights. But our lower half of the lineup has been hitting real well and hitting is contagious."
The Lady Mustangs (16-3), on 10 hits, scored three runs in the bottom of the second and third and tacked two more in the bottom of the fifth.
Marshall County (9-5) plated both its runs in the top of the sixth.
Jenny Chapman (7-1) earned the win for the Lady Mustangs and Neely Quint closed it out by pitching the final two innings. Chapman went five innings and allowed three hits. Quint gave up just one hit and one earned run. McCracken County left three on base.
Marshall County's Toni Fehrenbacher (5-3) was saddled with the loss and was responsible for all 10 hits and seven earned runs. The Lady Marshals stranded four runners on base.
"McCracken County finally got it going," Marshall County coach Kara Hamby said. "We got base runners on early, but just couldn't put a string of runners together until late. I'm proud that my team never gave up. I just wish we could have gotten our string of runs going earlier."
McCracken County took its 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second thanks to runs generated by Hannah Ridolfi's single, Rachel Ridolfi's double and Harris' base hit.
The Lady Mustangs made it 6-0 in the bottom of the third on an RBI single by Jacqueline Roof, an error by Marshall County in right and an RBI single by Hannah Ridolfi.
Rachel Ridolfi's popout to center and Harris' single plated McCracken County's two runs in the bottom of the fifth and upped the lead to 8-0.
Marshall County got its two runs in the top of the sixth off Abby Fiessinger's single and Kenslie Cross' groundout to second.
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Marshall County 000 002 0 2 4 2
McCracken County 033 020 0 8 10 1
Mar: Toni Fehrenbacher and Abby Fiessinger; McC: Jenny Chapman, Neely Quint and Rachel Ridolfi.
WP: Chapman (7-1). LP: Fehrenbacher (5-3)
2B: Mar - Trexler. McC - Henson (2), H. Ridolfi, R. Ridolfi. 3B: none. HR: none. Top hitters: Mar - Trexler 1-2; Stearns 1-3; McC - Vick 2-4; Henson 2-3; H. Ridolfi 2-2, 2 RBI; Harris 2-3, 2 RBI.
Call James D. Horne, a Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8661 or follow on Twitter @psunsports.