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Schmidt’s bomb lifts River by Monroe, 7-5

T-L Photo/KIM NORTH RIVER’S Raylee Schmidt reacts after receiving congratulations from head coach Dave Wright after she hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning Wednesday against Monroe Central in Sardis. The drive gave the Pilots a 7-4 lead and they won 7-5.

SARDIS — Raylee Schmidt’s failure to get a sacrifice bunt down — twice — turned out to be a blessing for the River softball team Wednesday.

The junior found herself staring at an 0-2 count after she couldn’t get the bat on the ball trying to move Kylie Piatt from second to third. However, after fouling off two more offerings from Monroe Central’s Liz Roderick, Schmidt, the No. 9 hitter in the Pilots lineup, sent the next pitch over the fence in left for a two-run homer and a 7-4 lead en route to a 7-5 victory.

“She hit the ball all game long. That’s what I told her when I brought her down with two strikes,” veteran River (7-2) head coach Dave Wright said. “I told her she had hit the ball hard all night, so just get a base hit for us. She did a little bit better.”

According to Wright, the roundtripper was the first of Schmidt’s career.

River took a 2-0 lead in its first at-bat as freshman Ayden Kraft ripped a shot up the middle with two outs that hit Broderick’s glove and glanced off the top of her head before falling into shallow center.

The Seminoles responded with a 4-spot in their half of the third. Regan Hamilton tripled into the leftfield corner to score two and Roderick slugged the next pitch over the fence in right-center with a teammate aboard.

Winning pitcher Katie Lively joined the home run derby with a solo shot to left with one out in the bottom of the third, and Katie Rufener’s sacrifice fly in the fifth drew the hosts even. Sophomore Rylee Knight followed with a single through the right side of the infield to plate Lively for a 5-4 advantage.

After Schmidt’s clutch homer, Monroe Central’s Kynzi Bishop laced a two-out double inside the first base bag for the final margin.

“That was a good team that we just beat. A real good team,” Wright said of the Seminoles. “We had to battle back last night (against Caldwell) and we had to battle back again tonight. That shows me a lot about the character of my team. They are very tough.”

Lively struck out five, walked just one and scattered eight hits. She threw 121 pitches, with 83 being strikes.

The only aspect of the game that had Wright shaking his head was the defense.

“Three of the first four groundballs were errors and we can’t have that,” Wright stressed, “but that is part of learning the game. You learn from your mistakes. I think we learned tonight that errors will hurt you, but the way we battled back, I liked that.”

Kraft added a double to her two-run single. Rufener also had a single.

“We’re still young and we’re trying to fight through a couple of things,” Monroe Central (6-6) head coach Michael Brock said. “We’re giving up too many hard-hit balls when we’re ahead in the count 0-2. That’s something we’ve been working on all year, but it just seems like we can’t get that third strike when we need it.

“It always seems that next pitch is hit to the fence or over it,” he added. “We’re working on it.”

Kalista Friday and Makenna Matz each rapped a pair of singles for the Seminoles. Bishop also singled.

Roderick fanned three, walked five and surrendered half-a-dozen hits.

Monroe Central stranded nine runners and at least one in every inning except the fourth when they went down in order.

The Monroe County rivals complete their home-and-away series today in Woodsfield. The first-pitch is set for 5.

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