It may have been too windy for softball. It was not too windy for Hagan Burns.
The South Laurel freshman struck out 14 batters in six innings in South Laurel’s 10-3 win over McCreary Central Saturday. She also hammered a grand slam for the game’s first four runs.
Coach James Burns, Hagan’s dad, had little choice but pitch her against the Lady Raiders. Destinee Fisher did not suit up for Saturday’s game and is questionable for action in Florida with a strained meniscus.
“Hagan stepped up and pitched well,” Burns said.
The only run Burns allowed was in the first inning, where she also gave up two of the four hits she surrendered. Burns seemed to get stronger the more she threw. She struck out the side in the second and fourth innings. She struck out five straight in the fifth and sixth innings.
“That’s what we’re hoping for. She’s just a freshman, but we’re going to have to have her,” Burns said.
A key defensive play by Taylor Martin may have saved Burns from allowing a big first inning. McCreary Central had already scored a run and runners stood on second and third with one out. Martin grabbed a line drive by Brianna Taylor off her shoestrings and turned a double play.
“That’s was a big play. This is her first year playing shortstop and she’s getting better every time she goes out there,” Burns said.
In the bottom of the first, South Laurel loaded the bases with one out. Jamie Baker reached on an error, Amber Hyde and Carly Bowling both drew walks. Burns then launched a towering home run over the centerfield fence for a grand slam.
“She’s been hitting quite a few in practice, but that’s’ the first one she’s hit in a game,” Burns said.
The 4-1 score held up until South Laurel struck for another big inning in the fourth. Two walks and three errors set up five South Laurel runs.
“We didn’t really hit the ball that well. We made contact and put it in play,” Burns said. “They made a lot of errors, but that comes from us putting it in play.”
The Lady Cardinals finished with seven hits and just four strikeouts against McCreary Central’s left handed starting pitcher Lesley Lawson.
“They seem to struggle more with a lefty. The lefty’s ball kind of drops at the last minute. I guess it’s a different motion than they’re used to seeing,” Burns said.
South Laurel scored its final run in the fifth inning. Casie Finley led off with a perfect bunt single. She would score on Martin’s two-out single.
The Lady Cardinals needed just one more run in the fifth or sixth to end the game, but seemed in no hurry to end the game.
“We should have, but that’s alright. We wanted to get that pitcher a little work too,” Burns said.
Sophomore Megan Smith pitched the final inning with a pair of walks leading to two McCreary Central runs. After the game, the Lady Cardinal began packing for their spring break trip to Florida.
“It’s a good win,” Burns said. “And we needed it.”
Sports Writer Mitch Howard can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.