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Titans defeat Knights in Tri Eastern Conference softball

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Tri’s Kaley Harrison belts a double to drive in the first run of Thursday evening’s softball game against visiting Northeastern. The host Titans took a 5-0 lead after two innings and went on to post a 6-2 win over the Knights.
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Northeastern sophomore pitcher Madison Kinder fires the ball toward the plate against a batter from host Tri during Thursday evening’s TEC softball game. Kinder went the distance in the circle and drove in the Knights’ two runs, but the Titans won 6-2.
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From the left, the home plate umpire, Tri Co-Coach and Athletic Director Bryan Peggs, and Northeastern Coach Mike Smith discuss the legality of a bat used by the Knights’ Jesseca Burns as Northeastern’s Madison Kinder (24) watches during Thursday evening’s TEC softball game at Tri. The bat was declared illegal and the Titans went on to win the game 6-2.
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Tri sophomore Chloe Gentry hurls the ball toward the plate against a batter from visiting Northeastern during Thursday evening’s TEC softball game. Gentry pitched a complete game, helped her own cause by doubling and scoring a run, and went to 5-0 for the season as the Titans defeated the Knights 6-2 to remain undefeated,

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

LEWISVILLE – The Northeastern High School softball team traveled to Class A No. 3 Tri Thursday evening for a big early-season showdown in the Tri-Eastern Conference

Although the visiting Knights ended up with more hits in the game, the Titans ended up with more runs on the scoreboard, and that’s the most important thing.

Tri won 6-2 to improve to 6-0 for the season and 1-0 in the TEC. Northeastern went back to Fountain City with records of 1-1 in the conference and 2-6 for the season.

“I thought we did a really good job of coming out and attacking the ball today,” Tri Co-Coach Duke Falck said after the game. “We got the early lead and our defense and pitching made it hold up. There still are some things we need to work on to get better at, but overall, we’re pretty pleased where we stand right now.”

Both sophomore pitchers went the distance in the contest. The Titans’ Chloe Gentry tossed seven innings and gave up two runs on nine hits, walked three, and struck out eight Knights batters.

Northeastern’s Madison Kinder threw six innings and gave up six runs on seven hits, walked four Tri batters, and also fanned eight hitters.

The Knights threatened first in the top of the first inning. With one away, Brianna Shepherd doubled to left centerfield and took third base when the next hitter struck out. But Shepherd was left standing there as Gentry also struck out the next batter to end the inning.

The Titans took the lead for good with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning. Gentry doubled to left centerfield on Kinder’s first pitch, took third on Cheyenne Lee’s sacrifice bunt, and scored when Kaley Harrison doubled over the centerfielder’s head.

Madison Hill and Abi Busby walked back-to-back to load the sacks. Harrison scored on a wild pitch to give Tri a 2-0 advantage and the other two runners moved up a base into scored position. But Kinder fanned the next two hitters to get out of the inning and avoid further damage.

The Knights’ Jesseca Burns walked to lead off the top of the second inning. Play was stopped for a few minutes to discuss the legality of the bat used by Burns. The bat was declared illegal but Burns was allowed to remain at first base. It didn’t matter, however, as Burns was erased on a 6-4-3 double play, the first of two turned by Tri on the day. Gentry whiffed the next batter to retire the side.

The Titans padded their lead in the last of the second inning on just one hit. Leading off, Taylor Craft walked after eight pitches. The next batter struck out, but then Gentry was plunked by Kinder on a 2-2 pitch.

Lee stepped to the plate and doubled to left centerfield to drive in Craft, and when the throw-in went astray, Gentry came in to score with Lee moving to third base.

Harrison lofted a sacrifice fly to left field that plated Lee for a 5-0 Tri advantage. Hill followed with a single to short rightfield, but the next batter struck out to end the inning.

Northeastern put two runners on base in the top of the third inning on a one-out single to center by Kelsey Cottongim and a two-out error on Shepherd’s grounder as Cottongim took third base on the play. But the visitors didn’t score.

With two away in the last of the third, Craft singled to centerfield and Kennedy Peggs walked on six pitches. But Kinder induced the next batter to fly out to center.

The Knights had their biggest threat going in the top of the fourth inning. Lena Smith led off with a bloop single to short centerfield. Gentry struck out the next batter on a 3-2 pitch, but Ava Burns followed with a single to left and Aunika Railsback hit a single off Gentry’s glove to fill the bags.

But Gentry bore down and fanned the next two batters to get out of the inning with the bases still loaded.

Tri got a leadoff single by Lee and a two-out single to left field by Busby in the bottom of the fourth, but didn’t score. Those were the final two hits for the Titans in the contest.

The Knights got a leadoff single to short rightfield by Sidney Dill in the top of the fifth inning, but she strayed too far from the bag when Peggs caught Shepherd’s fly ball to center, and Peggs threw to first baseman Zoie Prince to complete the double play.

Kinder followed with a single to right centerfield, but Gentry got the next batter to pop-up to Prince to end the inning.

The Titans went down in order (on a total of four pitches) in the bottom of the fifth inning, and the Knights were retired 1-2-3 in the top of the sixth.

Tri added a run in the last of the sixth inning without benefit of a hit. With one out, Lee reached on a two-base error after her fly ball to the outfield was dropped and hustled to third base on the play, beating the throw-in.

Lee scored on a wild pitch to increase the host’s lead to 6-0. The next two batters were retired to end the inning.

In the top of the seventh inning, Gentry was one out away from hurling the shutout, but didn’t quite get it.

The Knights’ Becca Schneider led off with a walk after battling back from a 1-2 count and Cottongim blasted a double to the centerfield fence, putting both runners in scoring position with no outs.

Gentry induced the next two batters to ground out and fly out. Down to its final out, Northeastern got a two-RBI single by Kinder to avoid the shutout and trimmed the Titan advantage to 6-2.

Gentry then got the next batter to ground out to Prince at second base to end the game after 1:31 of playing time. “Chloe has one of the best change-up pitches that I’ve seen around here,” Falck added. “She’s done a nice job of replacing what Peyton Moore did for us, and she’s only going to get better.”

Tri played at Eastern Hancock Friday evening and travels to Anderson Prep Academy Monday.