By Rob Kiser
Fast starts at the plate and the pitching of Kyla Blankenship continue to be a winning combination for the Piqua softball team, who will look to keep the magic going on a four-game trip to Disneyland in Florida.
After pitching a one-hit shutout Tuesday night at Sidney in Piqua’s 7-0 win at Flanagan Sports Complex, Blankenship pitched a seven-hitter Wednesday against the Yellow Jackets and overcame four Piqua errors in a 7-4 win that gave Piqua sole possession of the GWOC North with a 4-0 record and improved the Lady Indians to 5-1 overall.
On Tuesday, Blankenship struck out 12 and walked just two and she followed that up with 10 strikeout, while hitting one batter.
“We had five pitchers at the start of practice,” Piqua coach Rick Claprood said. “We weren’t sure who was going to step up and be the number one. Kyla (Blankenship) decided she wanted it and she has done that. I am telling you she put in hours upon hours upon hours of work to do that. She got a little tired at the end tonight, but I would say she is throwing really well.”
Piqua continued a pattern Wednesday, getting some big hits early to take a lead and build on it.
Megan Anderson started the game by reaching on an error.
Following an infield single by Lexi Gordon, Alyssa Jones had a RBI single and Reynna Lavey singled.
Kyla Blankenship and Kendra Forness followed with sacrifice flies to make it 3-0.
“The top of the order has been swinging the bats really well and gotten us off to good starts,” Claprood said. “But, there have been times the bottom of the order has hit and the top hasn’t. We are just trying to get them all together at the same time.”
Piqua made it 4-0 in the fourth when Forness led off with a line-shot double and came around to score on a wild pitch.
Sidney was able to get back within 4-1 in the fifth when Summer Inman singled and scored when McKenzie Lamdin’s fly ball was misplayed in the outfield.
“Last night we didn’t have any errors,” Claprood said. “Tonight, we had a few.”
Piqua answered with three more runs in the home fifth.
Gordon started things with a double, Kyla Blankenship had a RBI single, another run scored when Fortner’s ball fell in the outfield and Mariah Blankenship added a RBI single.
In the Sidney sixth, Kylie Trissel singled and scored when Piqua dropped a pop-up in the infield to make it 7-2.
The Jackets added two more runs in the seventh.
Inman and Hannah Westerbeck singled and both scored on Kacey Swiger’s double down the right field line.
But, Anderson ended the rally in the sixth with a running catch in center and Kyla Blankenship got the final out on a looper right back to her.
In Tuesday’s win, Piqua had again used a fast start with three runs in the first.
After hits by Anderson and Gordon, Jones slugged a two-run triple and scored on Kyla Blankenship’s sacrifice fly.
Blankenship added a two-run double in the third and Lavey started a two-run rally in the fifth with a triple.
Blankenship was 2-for-3, Jones was 2-for-4 and both drove in two runs.
Aslo going 2-for-4 were Anderson and Gordon, while Forness was 2-for-5.
Piqua will begin play in Florida on Saturday with a single game, play two on Sunday and conclude with a single game on Monday — before returning for two big games with Greenville Tuesday and Wednesday.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.