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North bedeviled in final SF 1A game

Playing for a share of the Southern Foothills 1A softball crown was all the North Lincoln Knights could ask for.
The Lady Knights beat Cherryville 8-3 last week to hand them their first loss. They then got some help as the Ironmen lost another SF 1A game, giving North Lincoln the opportunity, with a win, to earn a share of the conference title.
North Lincoln held a 2-1 lead into the fifth inning before losing 3-2 to Maiden in eight innings.
The momentum the Lady Knights had built was thwarted by one key play in the top of the fifth.
Maiden’s Leslie Herman started the inning off with a walk. Junior Nicole Baxter recorded a strikeout and made Amber Hefner ground out.
With two outs, Randi Pruitt hit a line drive to sophomore second baseman Courtney Feldon.
Feldon appeared to have gotten her glove under the ball for what would’ve been a third out. After the ‘catch,’ she tossed the ball back into the pitcher’s circle.
Seeing no call made, Pruitt kept running. North Lincoln was halfway in the dugout before they realized the play was still alive. It was too late as a throw to home wasn’t in time, allowing the hustling Pruitt to tie the game at two.
In the top of the eighth, Lindsey Canipe, who went 2-for-3 in the game, singled with one out. The next batter, Anna Snider, laid down a sacrifice bunt, allowing Canipe to reach second.
Although the Knights recorded their second out of the inning, an infield error allowed Canipe to score the winning run.
“We played well last night at Polk County, then come out here and play sloppy,” North Lincoln head coach Rick Brown said. “She (Kelsey Leonard) had only one strikeout, but yet we didn’t hit the ball well enough to score but two runs.”
With North Lincoln making several mental mistakes, that cost them runs, Brown believes his team better get it together or vacation will be here sooner than they want.
“If they don’t get it together starting next week, it’s going to be a lot shorter season than what they planned on. They got to reach down and figure what’s going on with them,” he said.
Baxter, who had seven strikeouts and six walks, felt she had let her team down and couldn’t offer any explanation for the team’s flat play.
“I don’t know what happened. I didn’t do very well,” she said. “We just weren’t there today. We weren’t as pumped up as we were at Polk County.”
Pruitt went 1-for-4 with one RBI for the Blue Devils. Courtney Berry went 1-for-3 with one RBI. Leonard and Herman also went 1-for-3.
Donia McDonald went 1-for-3, but had both RBIs for the Lady Knights. Her second RBI came in the bottom of the fourth when she hit a deep blast into right field. Courtesy runner Amanda Snyder scored on the play.
Baxter snapped out of a slump going 2-for-3. Jenna Torbert was 2-for-4.
Senior Lindsey Smith went 1-for-3, but was robbed twice. Centerfielder Herman robbed her of a possible double in the fourth.
“I’m really disappointed. Maybe during the conference tournament, we’ll come back and beat them when it really matters and that will help us at states,” she said.
Smith joined Calah Bynum and Nicole Hall as North Lincoln’s three seniors. The loss was made more difficult as it was Senior Night.

“At the beginning of the season, we had a chance to be conference champs and we blew that the first round. We came through the second round playing much better until tonight,” Brown said.
“We had it, then we weren’t pumped enough I guess. I thought we were going to win, but that’s the way it goes,” Knights’ junior McKenzie Harkey said.
In the top of the fourth, Smith made an over-the-shoulder basket catch.
For Maiden, left fielder Rachel Starnes demonstrated excellent range, tracking down several hard-hit balls.
The Lady Blue Devils could clinch the regular season conference championship if Cherryville loses their final game. If Cherryville wins, they would share it.

Maiden 010 010 0 1—3 7 0
North Lincoln 010 100 0—2 8 2
by John Mark Brooks

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