Despite the cold, Lady Cyclones’ bats get hot, breeze past Blue Devils 12-1

Published 2:52 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2024

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By Ron Marvel

Star Correspondent

Despite a game-time temperature in the 30s and wind chills much lower, the Lady Cyclones utilized the long ball and timely hitting to secure a 12-1 victory over the visiting Gate City Lady Blue Devils.

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Lela Byrd put the Lady Cyclones on the scoreboard first by driving a 0-1 fastball to right-center, giving her team an early 2-0 lead. This sparked a productive first inning for the Lady Cyclones, who capitalized on a couple of walks, a hit-by-pitch, and a couple of passed balls to extend their lead to 5-0 after the opening frame. Despite dealing with numbness from the cold and wind gusts up to 20 mph, Byrd pitched solidly throughout the game, lasting 4.0 innings on the mound and conceding just one run.

Head Coach Kenneth Hardin praised Byrd’s toughness on the mound post-game, stating, “She threw great today. She wanted to stay in the whole game, but she is just too important to our season with a lead like that. She is our number one, and she will pitch every big game for us. You know she just wants the ball. Her fingers were numb today, and she could not turn the ball over to go outside, but what else can you say about her!”

The Lady Cyclones added another seven runs in the 3rd and 4th innings, with both McKinna Blackwell and Sadie Williams hitting home runs, and Mollie Johnson contributing with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate. Senior Mollie Johnson acknowledged the challenging weather conditions but emphasized the team’s need to maintain aggression, stating, “It was cold and very windy. We understood our fingers could go numb today, so we needed to show control at the plate and get the ball up in the air.”

Lily McDuffie pitched the final inning, yielding a couple of hits, but a slick double play by Johnson closed the door on the Lady Blue Devils. McDuffie, Piper Bennett, and Addy Campbell also secured base hits for the Lady Cyclones, while Jozey Reece scored three runs off two walks and a hit by pitch. Senior Emma O’Quinn reflected on the team’s progress after the first few weeks, expressing excitement for the season ahead, stating, “We are very young and have a lot of growth to go through, but we are connecting well. I am excited for this season. As a senior, I expect a lot out of myself hitting in the second hole. My job is to get on base or, if Mollie gets on base, to move her over.”

With the win, the Lady Cyclones improved to 5-1 on the young season.