April 2, 2014 11:10:34 AM
There are several reasons the New Hope Lady fast-pitch softball team earned an 8-3 victory against Amory on Tuesday night.
The pitching of sophomore Mackenzie Harvey was the biggest piece of the victory. Harvey struck out two and gave up six hits, and while it might not have been a statistically dominating performance, New Hope coach Tabitha Beard feels Harvey is on the rise.
"For the past few years, we have had the combo of D.J. Sanders and Lauren Holifield," Beard said. "So (Harvey) hasn't gotten a lot of pitching time, especially in a varsity setting. We're asking a lot of her to come in and to be the counterpart to D.J. It's good to be able to rely on Mackenzie, and she did a good job tonight. She would get into a hole and be able to come back and settle down, and that comes with the maturity level. She's mature enough to know what to do and how to do it and she does a great job."
Harvey and the Lady Trojans worked out of five scoring threats by the Lady Panthers. The biggest jam came in the top of the third inning, when an RBI single from Gabby Hall allowed Amory to cut the lead down to 3-1 with no outs and the bases loaded. New Hope then recorded three huge outs, all at home plate, to keep a two-run lead.
Hall and Carley Westbrook had RBIs in the fourth to tie the game. However, freshman Kelsey Gerhart helped the Lady Trojans blow the game open in the bottom of the fifth, as she followed an R.J. James RBI single with a triple to the left-field wall that scored three runs and made it 7-3.
Harvey took care of the rest. She worked out of a final jam in the seventh, stranding runners at second and third. After the game, she credited her defense for helping the Lady Trojans earn the victory.
"I have a great defense behind me," Harvey said. "We're doing pretty good and the team continues to get better as a whole. We have a lot of heart, and we're going to continue to show that throughout the season."
Gerhart and James had three RBIs and two hits. Sanders had two hits and an RBI.
While Harvey feels the experience she has gained this season has helped her improve, she still has several things she wants to improve on, especially at the plate.
"My hitting isn't good right now," she said. "I feel like that's one of the biggest areas I need to work on. I want to at least go 2-for-3 in each game, and I know the improvement is coming. I just have to keep working hard every day."
With the win, New Hope improves to 7-3-1, while Amory drops to 10-8.