The Ragin’ Bulls from Hickory Ridge played small ball, solid defense, aggressively on the bases to beat the power hitting Independence Patriots softball team 5-3 in the Southwestern 4A Conference Tournament Championship game on Friday night.
The Patriots scored all their runs on solo home runs by Mckenzie Grant, Maya Douglas and Abrianna Grant. The team had 7 hits and 6 base on balls, but was unable to mount a serious attack as Hickory Ridge pitcher Brittany Snyder was able to get the big out when she need it throughout the entire contest.
Both Independence and Hickory Ridge finished 12-2 during the regular season tied for the championship. The Ragin’ Bulls can now claim the title and bragging rights by winning the PAC 7 Tournament Championship and having a 2-1 record head-to-head against the Patriots.
Indy took a 2-0 lead on two solo home runs. However, in the third inning the Ragin’ Bulls came storming back on multiple base hits, four consecutive running bunts and slashes from a parade of left handed hitters with speed. Independence could not seem to stop this strategy applied by their opponent. They were able to score 3 runs, on 4 hits and two walks to take the lead after three innings of play 3-2.
In the fifth, the Ragin’ Bulls added two more runs with more of the same that Indy could not defend effectively for two more insurance runs taking a more comfortable 5-2 lead with aggressive base running and more slashing from their speedy lefty hitters.
In the seventh, Hickory Ridge was trying to blow the game wide open. They had the bases loaded and no outs. The Bulls again went to the well with their bunting and slashing tactics, this time it backfired completely. The Patriots were ready, they got the force out at home on a tapper toward the mound to Jaylin Adkins, then Abrianna Berry nipped the runner at first base, the Bulls aggressively sent home the runner from third base trying to steal a run, and the player was gunned down by first baseman Mallory Shaver at home plate to complete the triple play. This play was electric and the Patriot crowd on hand was loud and ready for another comeback.
After one out, with the top of the order coming up, Abrianna Berry got a fastball she could handle and connected on the sweet part of the bat to drive a towering 250 foot home run over the left field fence to make the score 5-3. Mallory Shaver would walk, Maya Douglas smacked a grounder toward the hole between third and short, the shortstop was able to make an accurate throw to second base for the force out. Brianna Grant then singled to left putting runners on first and second with two outs. Stepping into the batters box is Jaylin Adkins, the hero from Wednesday’s game over Butler with a walk-off triple. Unfortunately, she could not find a hole and she hit a hard grounder right at the third baseman who was able to get Adkins out by a step to end the game.