BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. — Lincoln scored six runs over the first three innings, providing more than enough offense for pitcher Courtney Ramage, who made the lead hold Wednesday in a 6-3 victory at Bridgeport.
The victory allowed the Cougars to improve to 13-4, while the Indians (11-1) suffered their first loss.
“It was a huge win for us. Our confidence is building as a team and we’ve been playing better and better,” Lincoln coach Yancey Weaver said. “Our bats showed up today, especially in the first couple innings. We hit the ball well.”
Lincoln scored a first-running run to give Ramage a lead throughout her outing. A one-out double by Haven Rogers was followed by Shadee Hawkins’ solid single to left, which enabled the Cougars to build an early advantage en route to their fifth straight win.
The Cougars added to their lead in the second courtesy of four singles and an error to start the inning. Ramage led off with a single and Alisha Evans reached on the first of four BHS errors. A Madison Arcuri single loaded the bases, before Emily Weekly plated Ramage with a single to left.
Madi Andrick followed with the final hit of the inning — a two-run single that allowed Lincoln to lead 4-0.
The Cougars consistently jumped on the first pitch during the second inning and the approach paid off.
“I told the girls before the game we’re going to be disciplined at the plate, but if that’s your pitch jump on it — even if it’s the first pitch,” Weaver said. “And they took advantage of that.”
Lincoln scored twice more in the third, getting an Arcuri single to left that brought Cierra Evans home and Weekly’s single to shortstop, which scored Alisha Evans.
By the end of the third inning, the Cougars had a 6-0 lead and a 9-0 advantage in hits as Ramage retired the Tribe in order her first time through the lineup.
“We weren’t real patient and we hit a lot of fly balls,” Bridgeport coach Larry “Rabbit” Snider said. “Most people can catch fly balls, but if you put the ball on the ground three things have to happen. One, they have to catch it, two they have to throw it and three someone else has to catch it.“
Bridgeport broke through in the fourth, cutting its deficit to five runs when Kate Stanley singled to right to score Mackenzie Earp.
Were it not for a diving catch in left field by Lincoln freshman Macie Hardman that took a hit away from Emily Riggs, the Indians likely would have had at least another run during the frame.
“She keeps getting stronger and stronger and it showed with that dive and laying out like that,” Weaver said. “You can’t really ask for that. Defensively, I thought we were really solid.”
Although Bridgeport pitcher Johnna Hull settled in as the game went on and didn’t allow a baserunner from the fourth through sixth innings, Ramage held Bridgeport to one hit through the first five innings.
The Indians’ offense came to life in the sixth, however, with Riggs connecting for a two-out double that scored Laiken Cook, who had led off with a single. Stanley’s single to left scored Riggs to trim the BHS deficit to 6-3, but they managed only one more baserunner the rest of the way.
“The difference between good teams and great teams is taking care of the little things,” Snider said. “Get a bunt down, make your routine plays and we didn’t do that today. We were a good team today. We weren’t a great team. And they were a great team today.”
Ramage allowed five hits in seven innings, striking out three without issuing a walk.
“With the tough lineup and hitting they have, Courtney pitched an excellent game,” Weaver said. “She was pretty good at hitting her spots today, so hats off to her. I’m proud of the way she threw.”
Hull took the loss after allowing six runs on 10 hits.
Hawkins, Arcuri and Weekly each recorded a pair of hits in the victory, while Stanley led the Indians with a pair of hits and RBIs.