By Rob Kiser
The Piqua softball teams heads into the Division I sectional tournament Monday with plenty of momentum.
The Lady Indians finished the week with three straight wins, improving to 20-5 on the season with a 9-0 victory over Bellefontaine Friday.
“It is always good to come back from a loss by winning a couple games,” Piqua coach Rick Claprood said referring to Tuesday’s loss to Troy.
On the mound, Kyla Blankenship rolled through the Bellefontaine lineup.
She allowed just four hits, striking out 11 and not walking a batter, facing just three batters over the minimum.
“She was very effective,” Claprood said Blankenship. “And she is learning how to pitch. A girl hit a line drive to the outfield on a curve ball in the first inning. She never threw her another curve ball and we got two strikeouts. Kyla threw a lot of riseballs tonight. She is understanding how to pitch batters.”
Catcher Reynna Lavey threw a strike to second baseman Lexi Gordon at first to pick-off Bailey Smith in the second inning.
“We have missed some of those this season, but that is a play that we have had success with since I have been here,” Claprood said. “The girl ran right into the tag so she had to be out.”
Piqua would get all the runs they would need with a six-run explosion in the third, batting around.
Rayna Brownlee started things with a double and Megan Anderson singled.
Gordon beat out an infield single and the throw got away, allowing Brownlee to score.
Gordon and Anderson pulled off a double steal, with Anderson scoring and Gordon scored when Alyssa Jones reached on an error.
Lavey followed with a RBI single to make it 4-0. Kendra Forness had a two-out triple to make it 5-0 and scored on Mariah Blankenship’s double to make it 6-0.
“Speed kills,” Claprood said. “A perfect example is Alyssa (Jones) bunt. Alyssa is hustling down the line. The pitcher throws the ball away, I think because she saw Alyssa. Probably she normally makes that play.”
Piqua made it 8-0 in the fourth.
Anderson started the inning with her third straight single, Jones had a RBI double and Lavey added another RBI single to make it 8-0.
In the sixth, Kelsie Hall slugged her second home run in less than a week to make it 9-0.
“That is the second longest one I have seen,” Claprood said. “Reynna (Lavey) hit one into the woods. Kelsie’s might have made it to the woods if it wasn’t for our hitting area out there. But, Kelsie has been swinging the bat real well of late.
“I am not talking about home runs. I am talking about singles and doubles. That is one thing we talk to the girls about. You get the singles and doubles, the home runs will come.”
Piqua had beaten Springboro 6-2 Wednesday and Wayne 8-3 on Thursday.
Against Springboro, Gordon was 3-for-4, while Lavey had two RBIs and Kyla Blankenship had three RBIs.
Mariah Blankenship drove in a run and Forness doubled.
Kyla Blankenship pitched a nine-hitter, striking out five, walking one and hitting one batter.
Against Wayne, Anderson and Jones were both 2-for-4 with one RBI.
Hall was 3-for-4 and Gordon and Mariah Blankenship both drove in runs.
Kyla Blankenship pitched a six-hitter, striking out six and walking one.
Piqua will open tournament play at 5 p.m. Monday, hosting Fairmont.
“I would say we have a little momentum heading into the tournament,” Claprood said. “We are playing pretty well right now. The girls are still learning, even the seniors. That is the key.”
And the Lady Indians will look to ride that momentum as the tournament begins.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.