Lone Grove senior Kacee Dellis left after getting hit in the helmet with a first-inning pitch.
LONE GROVE — Kacee Dellis heard silence.
Then a ringing sound.
Forced to the sit after getting hit in the head with a first-inning pitch, her teammates played inspired ball for “Momma KC.”
Brooklyn Mason made two catches in the fifth inning which stranded three Lexington base runners to help freshman pitcher Cassidy Baughman escape from a potentially dangerous inning.
Taleigh Nail drove in a game-high three runs, and Shelby Stevenson chipped in two RBI as Lone Grove beat Lexington 6-1 in its season and home opener Monday at Glenn Wendt Field.
“It was like being in a car wreck,” Dellis said. “That noise, just dead silence and then that ring.”
Freshman Abbi Atkinson stepped in for Dellis mid at-bat, a place appearance that ended with a flyout to the Lady Bulldogs' pitcher. Atkinson singled in the third and fourth frames — the latter of which drove in Lone Grove's fifth run in the bottom of the fourth — then drew a walk in the sixth.
“Abbi worked for me to help me out because she wanted to play her best because I didn't want to sit,” Dellis said. “They all knew that. They knew I would've been mad if they didn't, so they worked probably more — they worked for themselves but they knew how bad I did not want to sit on the bench. I'm glad they played good.
“I didn't want to sit the second it happened.”
Nail, the Lady Horns' (1-0) junior third baseman, has shared the left side of the infield with Dellis for parts of three seasons — including 2015 in its entirety.
“We have this bond that nobody can break,” Nail said, “so I just felt like I need to play for her, as well as myself and my teammates.”
Lone Grove, which led wire-to-wire, scored twice in the first frame. Mason led off with a walk. Maci McMurtrey hit a bunt double because the Lady Bulldogs' second baseman covered first base. The next hitter, Nail had an infield single that Lexington's first baseman deflected toward the Lady Horns' dugout; Mason scored. Two hitters later, Stevenson added a sacrifice fly.
Compiling a pair of two-out hits, Lone Grove added three runs in the fourth frame, as Nail had a two-run RBI single. After McMurtrey's sacrifice bunt, Atkinson chipped in an RBI single.
In the next half-inning, Baughman issued a walk to load the bases with one out. She then induced two flyouts to Mason, the Lady Horns' junior center fielder, who — following the second out — threw a strike to catcher Adara Finnerty, denying a sacrifice-fly bid.
“(I was feeling) adrenaline, I guess,” Nail said, describing her feelings of escaping the inning unscathed.
“Not only her, Cassidy did a great job pitching. It was a really big out.”
Lexington scored its only run in the sixth. Baughman and Co. stranded a lead-off double in the final frame.
Lone Grove coach Jimmy Miller described it as a team win.
“McMurtrey did a really good job at second base,” Miller said. “Amy (Hicks) did a good job playing defense at first. Taleigh always does a good job at third. Atkinson did an awesome job. She had some good at-bats and played good defense. For a freshman, that was big, her stepping in and playing shortstop like that.”
Dellis held an ice pack to her ear in the early innings. Before she returned to the dugout, prior to the junior-varsity game, the ice pack was refilled.
Dellis said after the game that she felt “a little dizzy.”
On a day where temperatures reached 97 degrees with a heat advisory, Lone Grove stepped up in their senior shortstop's stead and earned a win that pleased Miller.
“One of the hardest games we play is the first game of the year and the first home game,” Miller said. “When they come together, sometimes it can be a little nervous (NOTE: can I say “nerve-wracking”) for the girls. They did good today. It was fun to get a win.”