Richard Stroud

Grove Sun

The Grove Lady Red battled the heat and a couple of tough opponents on their way to a split of their two games at the Grand Lake Softball Festival on Tuesday and Wednesday.

For Grove starting pitcher Jessie Walker, Wednesday’s 6-1 win over Bixby was all about redemption. After walking seven batters in four innings in a 1-0 loss to the Claremore Sequoyah Lady Eagles on Tuesday, Walker rebounded on Wednesday to strike out seven Lady Spartans in a six-inning complete game.

“[It was] just relaxing, having fun, and trusting my teammates,” Walker said after Wednesday’s win.

“She came back and threw a great game [Wednesday],” GHS head coach Jeremy Collins said. “She stayed in the zone and gave us a chance. She matured a little bit today, understanding that she doesn’t need to do it by herself.”

Both Walker and Collins said that first game jitters partly accounted for Tuesday’s performance against the Lady Eagles, a team that reached the state semifinals in Class 4A last season. Walker began the game with back-to-back walks followed by a single from Sequoyah’s Amy Harrison to load the bases.

Walker got an infield pop up and a strikeout and was nearly out of the inning with no damage, but another walk forced in what turned out to be the game’s only run before another strikeout ended the inning.

The Lady Red also struggled at the plate, missing opportunities to put runs on the board. The first came in the bottom of the opening frame, when three consecutive singles by Ahleigh Tramel, Taylor Dodson and Katie Stout loaded the bases with one out. But two consecutive groundouts ended what would be Grove’s best chance to score.

Walker would wiggle out of another self-made jam in the second when a double, a single and a walk again loaded the bases with two out. The Lady Eagles’ Shelby Blackwell would foul out to end the inning, keeping the score at 1-0.

Grove would manage just two more hits as the game ended after four innings due to a time limit imposed on all games at the festival.

GHS would bounce back against Bixby on Wednesday, getting timely hits to go along with Walker’s dominant turn in the circle to get the win.

Walker herself would get the Lady Red on the board in the bottom of the first inning, shooting a double into right centerfield to score Dodson.

Shortstop Mason Jeffries would add to Grove’s lead in the second inning with an RBI double of her own down the leftfield line, scoring Kaitlin Threet for a 2-0 lead.

“Our approach at the plate was different [on Wednesday],” Collins said. “We had an idea and we got some runs early.”

Meanwhile Walker would hold Bixby to just three baserunners over the first four innings while piling up six strikeouts.

Dodson would add to the Lady Red’s lead with a solo home run to leftfield to lead off the fifth inning, Grove’s first home run of the 2010 season.

The Lady Red would then break the game open in the bottom of the sixth. Nursing a 3-1 lead, Threet and Shae Scott would lead off the inning with consecutive singles. Tramel would then follow with a one-out double to score Threet. Dodson would then follow with her third hit of the game, a single past the Sequoyah shortstop that scored Scott and Tramel to make the score 6-1.

Dodson would finish the game with three RBIs, while Scott and Walker each had two hits. Every Grove starter had at least one hit in the game.

“A win’s a win,” Collins said. “Can’t be anything but happy with that.”

The win was Collins’ first as the Lady Red head coach. GHS will go for win number two on the season when they travel to Jay to take on  the Lady Bulldogs at 4 p.m.