By RYAN HERMAN
VALE –– Freshman Kylee Leonhardt may have added to her state-leading home run total, but against Fred T. Foard Monday that’s about all West Lincoln could brag on.
Ricki Kunn hit a two-run homer, Rebels coach Tyler Sain was forced to make his first pitching change of the season and the Tigers won the rain-shortened non-league softball tilt, 5-1.
Leonhardt sent the first pitch she saw over the fence in center field to give herself eight home runs on the year and her team an early 1-0 lead. But an offense that was averaging nearly 10 runs per game going in was held to just three more hits and kept off the board.
“We just didn’t hit the ball,” Sain said.
Leonhardt, the younger sister of Rebels shortstop Karsen Leonhardt, who has signed with Division I Campbell, now leads the state in home runs with eight according to teams who have uploaded their stats to the website Maxpreps.com.
Batting in the three-hole and hitting .682 going in, Kylee Leonhardt stepped up and did her damage with two away in the first. But the homer didn’t faze Tigers starter Ally Yoder, who gave up four hits, struck out four and walked one.
“She’s so strong and such a good hitter,” Sain said of Leonhardt. “She’s a special player, and she’s just a freshman.”
As the rain came the Rebels (13-3) had back-to-back hits in the fourth by sisters Meredith and Madison Ferguson, but Yoder got Lyla Sain to fly out to center to end the threat.
The game was called after five innings when Heather Truesdale was tagged out at the plate after trying to score from third on a wild pitch that bounced to the backstop.
The loss snapped West Lincoln’s four-game winning streak.
“We needed a game like this,” said Sain, whose Southern District 7 Athletic 2A Conference-leading team still has tied-for-second Bandys and East Lincoln, plus fifth-place Maiden, left on its schedule. “Maybe this will help get us focused for the stretch run.”
While Yoder was busy quieting the Rebels’ bats, her offense forced Sain to pull his ace for the first time.
A lead-off double plus a wild pitch set up Foard’s first run in the second, and in the third Cassidy Wise (13-3) allowed a lead-off single to set up Kunn’s home run and make it 3-1.
Two walks followed Kunn’s homer, and after a 1-2-3 fourth, Wise again allowed the lead-off batter to reach when she hit Delaney Dellinger on the foot.
An error followed allowing Dellinger to score, and then another walk, which cut short her outing. Pitching for the first time this season, Erin Huff gave up an RBI single to Michaela Wilson and a double to Yoder, then retired Jessie Miller on strikes.
In the home-half of the fifth Yoder struck out Taylor Leatherman, then walked Truesdale. Raeven McCrodden sacrificed Truesdale all the way to third, and with Karsen Leonhardt in the box, Yoder bounced a pitch in front of the plate.
The pitch sailed over Dellinger’s head and Truesdale took off. Dellinger flipped to Yoder, who tagged Truesdale, who went in standing up.
With the rain pouring, the home plate umpired deemed the game complete.
“She just didn’t have it today,” Sain said of Wise. “Actually, none of us had it, really. Hopefully this will get their minds right as we chase a conference championship.”