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Lady Jackets win home opener against Elk Creek
Standing in the pitcher's circle for the first time since fifth grade, Julie Ramirez had good reason to be nervous and for the first two innings the Williams High pitcher looked the part of a rattled first-timer.
She walked five Elk Creek High hitters, but the jitters didn't last, and the Yellowjackets defense atoned for several early errors by turning three double plays to win 6-4 on Thursday.
"I was nervous. I kept thinking why did I accept to do this, this is the first home game, what if I do really bad, and then after a while I was like OK, I'm getting through this I can do this," Ramirez said.
Williams (1-2) scored three times in the bottom of the first inning on singles by Mingy Velazquez, Ashlee Povlsen and Itzel Ramirez but even an early three-run lead didn't soothe Ramirez's nerves.
It took a few lucky breaks, several stellar defensive plays and the vocal support of her teammates but Ramirez found a way to win.
Ramirez benefited from three base-running blunders by a young Elk Creek team and escaped the first two innings without allowing a run despite an error and five free passes.
Jessica Burrows led off the third inning with a single for the Elks and Kayleen Swearinger reached on an error. Both runners moved up a base on a passed ball and Burrows scored on an error by shortstop Mingy Velazquez.
Swearinger came around to score on a second error by Velazquez but second baseman Liz Mendez robbed Sarah McCabe of a base hit and threw behind the runner to first base for a double play to end the inning.
Williams coach Erin Flanigan shuffled her infield and moved Itzel Ramirez to shortstop, Velazquez to second base and Mendez to first in the fourth inning and the adjustment immediately paid off.
Ramirez walked Sebrena Nash to lead off the inning but Velazquez made a nice turn at second base for a 6-4-3 double play and fielded a hard-hit grounder for the final out of the inning.
Jasmin Gomez singled and scored in the bottom of the inning to give the Yellowjackets a 4-2 lead but the Elks tied it up in the top of the fifth.
Swearinger and Shelby Carpenter led off the inning with back-to-back singles and Krista Swearinger hit a line drive to center field which dropped for an error and scored both runners. Three Elks hitters then hit into harmless groundouts and Williams escaped the inning with the game tied 4-4.
Elk Creek pitcher Krista Swearinger worked around a walk and a single by Itzel Ramirez in the bottom of the fifth to keep the game tied, but the Elks hit into another double play in the top of the sixth inning.
Mendez led off the bottom half of the inning with a bunt single, but the throw to first sailed wide and Mendez sped around the bases to score as the ball kicked down the right field line.
"I thought I was going to make it to first but I didn't think I was going to make it any farther than that. I saw the ball go past me so I kept running," Mendez said.
Julie Ramirez reached on an error and scored an insurance run on a single by Velazquez later in the inning.
Carpenter led off the top of the seventh with a walk, the eighth issued by Ramirez in the game, but the Lady Jackets kept the ball in the infield and Mendez dug throws out of the dirt twice to preserve the victory for the Yellowjackets.
"I haven't played much first base so I was pretty happy with the outcome, they were tough throws and I was happy that I got them," Mendez said.
Krista Swearinger took the loss but just one of the six runs scored against her was earned. She struck out five and walked one while allowing seven hits. Despite going 0-for-4 at the plate, Swearinger contributed a significant amount of offense. Three of the Elks runs scored on well-hit balls by Swearinger which went for errors.
Elk Creek coach Abby Swearinger was happy with her team's effort in their first game of the season.
"It was a pretty good outing, I liked our first game because we know what we need to work on. I can talk and talk and talk until they actually get in the ball game and see how it goes, and now they know," she said.
The Elks (0-1) showed their youth by running into several outs on the base paths and were too aggressive in the batters box, she said.
"I think because they're young, we have a couple freshmen out there, in a a couple years they'll be seasoned. We just started, we haven't been outside," she said.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or email@example.com.