Duncan’s quickness running the base path Tuesday evening forced Ardmore’s infielders to make snap decisions.
The little time the Lady Tigers had to react to the ground balls in their 7-0 loss at Valero Park forced them to make throws that were more off-target than they would have liked.
A pitcher’s duel for two innings, Duncan sophomore Steph Cooper laid the groundwork for a five-run top of the third for the Lady Demons.
Cooper hit a grounder Ardmore third baseman Morgan Chavez whose on-target throw to Lady Tigers first baseman Caity Sparlin was beaten out by Cooper for a lead-off infield single.
Ardmore struggled to recover from Cooper’s hit.
Three batters later, Duncan senior Kennedy Stewart brought home two more runs with an infield single.
Kennedy was credited with one RBI on the play as the second run came courtesy of a fielding error by Sparlin.
A dropped fly ball by Ardmore shortstop Chloe Pender allowed the third Duncan run to cross home plate.
Two batters later, Duncan senior pitcher Corrina Rivas put a big dagger in Ardmore’s hopes for a comeback in its District 5A-2 opener.
Rivas lined a two-run single that bounced off the third-base bag, which increased the Lady Demons advantage to 5-0.
“I think we started great and think they put some pressure on us and we made some mistakes,” Ardmore coach Charli Crawford said. “I haven’t looked at my book yet to see how many mistakes we made, but I know off the top of my head that it was at least seven. Usually, in my experience, errors tend to match up with runs.”
Crawford praised the pitching of junior Lexi Duff who induced chances for several ground-ball outs.
“That’s honestly the best that I have seen her pitch so far this season,” Crawford said. “She legitimately gave up only two hits. I can’t ask her to do any more. Our defense has got to be better than what it was tonight if we want to win big ball games this year.”
Rivas also came up big on the mound.
The only two hits that she gave up on the evening came on balls that were hit halfway up the base line. Madisen Moore blooped a single onto the first-base line. The ball spun as it hit the dirt and remained in fair territory. Duff hit one up the left foul line to lead off the seventh.
Several balls were hit directly to fielders.
In the fourth, Duff hit the hardest ball of the night. It flew high into right field and appeared destined for at least a double. Instead, Duncan’s right fielder reached up to make the catch.
Ardmore totaled four base runners.
“Honestly, I thought that we hit the ball hard tonight, but we hit it at people,” Crawford said. “I think we did well tonight with the type of pitcher that (Rivas) is. We didn’t strike out a lot and that was our game plan. I told them that if we hit the ball hard and we didn’t strike out, I would be happy, and that’s what we did.”