By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
BRYSON CITY – The Lady Braves (1-1) were held to two hits in their Smoky Mountain Conference opener at Swain on Tuesday, March 12. The Lady Maroon Devils, led by Kendra Kirkland who hit two home runs, won the game 11-1.
Cherokee’s pitcher Dre Crowe recorded four strikeouts in 4.2 innings and had 12 first pitch strikes.
Cherokee went three-and-out to start the game. Swain got going early in the bottom of the first as Kirkland hit her first of two dingers bringing in two runs to lead 2-0.
In the bottom of the second, Swain’s Nikki Cody hit a double bringing in one run to make it 3-0. Then, Kirkland stepped up and hit her second home run of the game bringing in Cody and herself to make it 5-0.
The Lady Braves got something going in the top of the third as Ashley Bottchenbaugh walked. Sarai McMillan was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. Then, Bree Smith did a nice sacrifice bunt to move the runners around to second and third. But, then the rally stalled and Cherokee left the runners on base to end the inning.
Swain would add another run in the bottom of the third as Karie Jones got on base with a single and then stole second and third and ran home on a wild pitch to make it 6-0.
Cherokee got on the board in the top of the fourth. Ashlee Smith started it off with a walk. Lacy Arch doubled and Smith ran home for what seemed like a run, but the umpire said she missed the home plate and she was called out.
That didn’t phase the Lady Braves though as Gabby Thompson stepped up next and hit a driving single that brought Arch home to make it 6-1.
Swain scored three more in the bottom of the fourth. Summer Hight and Jessica Winchester got on base with consecutive singles. Abbe Kirby then singled to bring them both home making it 8-1. Jones then singled to bring home Kirby to make it 9-1.
The Lady Maroon Devils scored two more in the bottom of the fifth and the game was called at 11-1.
Prior to the game, CHS coach Barry Reed took a few minutes to speak to the One Feather about the upcoming season for the Lady Braves. “I think we have a really good team this year. I think we look really good as far as experience and comprehension of the game.”
Reed said that defense will be the strong point of this team. “We’ve got good pitching. We’ve got good catching. I think we’re going to be pretty tough as far as that’s concerned.”
“Our hitting is down a little bit, but hopefully it’ll start coming around. We haven’t had that much time outside…it’s been too wet.”
Reed said the team should be able to hold its own in the conference this season. “There’s going to be some tough competition in the conference. We’re going to play some tough teams. Hopefully, it’ll be a good year. I’ve got some good girls with good hearts.”
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