Lady Patriots cruise to 9-0 victory

CONYERS - After scoring in each of the five innings played, the Lady Patriots took care of business against the Lady Bulldogs in region action Thursday night at Earl O'Neal Park, 9-0.

Despite stranding 11 baserunners, Heritage (5-4-1 overall, 2-0 Region 8B-AAAA) took advantage of timely hitting over rival Rockdale (0-5, 0-3).

Leading the charge for the Lady Patriots was Jessica Hornsby, who went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and one run scored. Kat Baize contributed with a 2-for-3 performance, including two RBIs and two runs.

"Like I told the girls, I'm happy with the nine (runs) we scored, but we gotta work on scoring those other 11," said Heritage coach Dickey Hightower. "That's what's hurt us in some ball games that we've lost - we haven't scored when we get runners in scoring position."

Heritage starting pitcher Jamie Melson collected the win by hurling a complete game, fanning six while allowing zero walks. Melson made quick work of her opponent, tossing 58 pitches while holding Rockdale to just four hits.

"Well, Jamie's a good pitcher," Hightower acknowledged. "She doesn't overpower anybody, but she puts the ball where she wants to put it. If we play decent defense behind her, we can win a lot of ball games because she's that good."

At the plate, Melson was just as effective, reaching base four times by going 2-for-2 with one RBI, two runs and two walks.

"Defensively, we held it down," said Rockdale coach Holly Hamilton. "They got some hits, but we didn't have many errors. But overall, we just didn't have our mentality today, and we didn't hit the ball."

Rockdale's Stephanie Scaffe was handed the loss. Scaffe allowed eight runs (five earned) in four innings of work off 10 hits. She struck out three while allowing six base on balls.

Heritage struck early in the first inning with an RBI single to left off the bat of Hornsby, plating Baize who had previously walked.

Turns out that was all the run support Melson needed.

The Lady Patriots added three more runs in the second thanks to an RBI single by Baize, scoring Chandler Shepherd who earlier singled and stole second. Katie Cuson helped the cause with with an RBI fielder's choice, giving Heritage a 4-0 lead after two innings of play.

During the bottom half of the second and third innings, Melson struck out four of the seven batters she faced.

Heritage added three more runs in the fifth inning to seal the deal with three consecutive RBI hits from Baize, Callie Alford and Hornsby.

"Well, it's in the sub-region so it's a little bit more than a regular win," Hightower said regarding the magnitude of the game. "Plus, they've been beating us, and we needed to get back a little bit. It's a big win, but it's just one more game in the sub-region; we still gotta win some more."

Despite the loss, Rockdale is still trying to figure out a way to get that first win of the year.

"(Tonight) we didn't have one person in the starting position from last year," Hamilton said. "Granted, we're throwing a lot of different changes out to them, but we're hoping that they can come up with something. Obviously, we need to go back to the drawing board and get some stuff done."

Still, there was a glimpse of how good they can truly be, as the Lady Bulldogs made several spectacular plays in the field.

"I think Kara played a good game," Hamilton said. "She had a diving catch by the fence, and Sammy Girardot had a good catch, too. Our shortstop, Cidney Scoggins, made two or three good plays, as well."

Offensively, Rockdale's Kara Johnson (triple), MeQuilla Franklin, Kaitlin Overstreet and Scaffe each collected hits in the losing effort.

Jason Murdock can be reached at jason.murdock@rockdalecitizen.com.