Tuscola’s softball team backed up its first Central Illinois Conference victory earlier in the week with a win over maybe the best competition they have seen so far in the young season. The Lady Warriors scored first and utilized a big third frame to upend a very strong, loaded Paris squad 9-4 Wednesday, March 27 at Ervin Park in a game that had the feel of a post season thriller.
Ashton Smith and Kaitlyn Reifsteck both hurled the pill for Tuscola. Smith got the start and the win giving up three runs on four hits and no walks while striking out five in three and a third innings. Reifsteck entered in the fourth with a one-run lead and threw the final three and two-thirds. collecting the save, giving up one run on four hits and a walk while also fanning five.
Offensively Jessie Martin and Natalie Bates fueled a very efficient Warrior attack the pushed 9 of 13 base runners across the dish, stranding just four. Martin doubled, went 2 for 3 on the day, reached 3 of the 4 times she strolled to the plate and scored twice. Bates pushed one across on a well-executed squeeze bunt, reached safely three times and scored each time. Bates also showed off her speed by swiping three bags. Kendyl Ring singled twice, and Sofia James stole a bag and scored twice as a courtesy runner.
The Warriors put a pair on the board in the bottom of the first when Bates took the second pitch of the half inning off her left shoulder, stole second and third, and scored on a pass ball. Martin worked her way on with two gone with a seven-pitch walk, stole second and scored on back-to-back wild pitches. They added two more in the third thanks to a walk to Jackie Watson, a stolen base by James, an RBI double by Martin, and a ground ball by Reifsteck.
Paris led off the fourth with a hit and scored one batter later on an RBI double that scored with one gone on a two-run dinger to cut the lead to one, 4-3. Reifsteck entered and fanned the final two in the frame to put an end to the rally. Tuscola went one better in the bottom half plating four runs thanks to Martin, Bates, and Abbey Jacob. Bates squeezed one over and Jacob pushed hers in with a sac fly to center, while Martin drove in a pair with a single up the middle to make it 8-3 Warriors.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, April 3 edition of The Tuscola Journal.