Kennett's Logan Vaughan applies a tag to Neelyville's Jessica Crosby at second base.
"We really started quick today," Kennett softball coach Kevin McCaig said. "We played small ball and put pressure on the defense. Good things happened. You will take eight runs in the first two innings any day."
The Lady Tigers took an early 2-0 lead when it plated two runs on three hits against Kennett starting pitcher Chandler Essary in the top of the first inning. Nellyville's Caela Petty and Harlee Prosise each had one RBI in the scoring sequence.
Kennett responded with four runs on two hits, a walk and two Neelyville errors in the bottom of the first inning. The Lady Indians' Shayla Jansson and Jade Caldwell each drove in one run in their first-inning at-bat.
Kennett plated four additional runs in the bottom of the second to stretch its lead to 8-2. Caldwell had a two-RBI single in the second and finished the game with a team-high three RBIs. The Lady Indians' Logan Vaughan and Clara Henderson had one-RBI singles in the second.
Kennett's Chandler Essary eyes an approaching pitch. [Order this photo]
"I just like being there for my team when they need a bunt base hit," Henderson said. "Coach called for me to lay down the bunts and I pulled through today."
The Lady Tigers threatened to erase Kennett's lead in the top of the fourth inning.
Neelyville scored two runs on Ashley Law's two-RBI single to trim Kennett's lead to 8-4 and had the bases loaded with nobody out after its first five hitters reached base.
Essary escaped the jam without allowing additional runs by retiring Neelyville's No. 2, 3 and 4 hitters. Essary collected the three outs without a strikeout.
"It's about trusting everything you have worked for and having faith all of the girls out there are going to do the best they can to make plays for you," Essary said of pitching out of the fourth-inning trouble.
McCaig added: "I cannot say enough about the job Chandler did right there. She got herself in a little pickle right there by walking the leadoff batter and giving up a couple of hits. She was mentally tough right there to work herself out of an inning with the meat of the order up."
Law drove in Neelyville's final run in the top of the fifth when she grounded into a fielder's choice.
Kennett's Jacky Lockhert collected a two-RBI double in the bottom of the fifth to give Kennett a 10-5 lead. Kelsey Lawrence's RBI-single in the bottom of the sixth accounted for the Lady Indians' final run.
Kennett softball players meet near the circle before the start Tuesday's game against Neelyville. [Order this photo]
Emily Eaker suffered a loss. Eaker allowed 11 runs on 11 hits and struck out five in six innings pitched.
Neelyville made five defensive errors. The Lady Indians did not commit an error.
"Putting the ball in play makes good things happen," McCaig said. "Today we were sound defensively. When you give good teams extra outs that usually comes back and gets you. That's been our Achilles heel this year so far in big games. Today we didn't give a good team extra outs."
Kennett's record now stands at 12-6. The Lady Indians play at Holcomb Wednesday. Holcomb is currently 12-3 and won the Tri-County Conference regular-season title.
"It's a big game Wednesday," McCaig said. "We are not going to make any excuses. We will go down there, play who we have and try to get a victory."
Essary added: "They seem to think they can beat us. We will just have to go down there and see what it is all about."
Kennett 11, Neelyville 5
NHS 200 210 0 - 5 10 5
KHS 440 021 X - 11 11 0
WP - Chandler Essary. LP - Emily Eaker. 2B - Brooke Sheppard (N), Kelsey Washburn (K), Jacky Lockhert (K). Multiple Hits: Kennett - Clara Henderson 2-3, Kelsey Lawrence 2-4, Lockhert 2-4. Neelyville - Caela Petty 2-4, Sheppard 3-4, Ashley Law 2-3.