CONYERS - Clutch hitting was the name of the game for the Heritage softball team on Tuesday against county rival Salem.
Callie Alford's bases-clearing double and Whitney Phillips' two-run triple were the key hits in a six-run second inning as the Lady Patriots (11-4-1 overall, 3-0 in 8-AAAA South) collected their eighth straight victory with a 9-0 decision over the Lady Seminoles (2-10 overall, 0-2 in 8-AAAA South).
"Absolutely, their big inning hurt us. Heritage went out ready to hit, and we just weren't ready to hit," Salem coach Stephanie Bassett said. "We got runners on base and we couldn't get hits (to bring them in). They got solid hits to bring in their runs."
In the bottom of the second, Heritage's Jamie Melson worked a two-out walk and her courtesy runner, Sydoni Wiggins, stole second to set up the first clutch hitting situation for the Lady Patriots.
Jaclyn Queen followed with an RBI single to plate the game's first run.
After Ashley Ward walked, Phillips tripled down the left-field line, increasing the Heritage lead to 3-0.
The Lady Patriots loaded the bases after Katie Cuson was hit by a pitch and Kat Baize walked. This time, Alford crushed a double into left-center, clearing the bases for a 6-0 lead.
Alford, a sophomore, had a game-high three hits and four RBIs.
"It's always nice to see us get some clutch hits," Heritage coach Dickey Hightower said. "Callie had the big hit (to break it open). Callie is going to hit the ball, because Callie is a ballplayer."
Six runs were more than enough for Heritage's staring pitcher, Melson, who allowed only base runner, a one-out single by Salem's Kara Bassett, in her three innings of work. Melson finished with five strikeouts.
Heritage's Nikki Walden worked the final three innings in the circle, allowing three base runners, all on walks.
The Patriots scored once in the third and once in the sixth to tack on their other two runs.
In the third, Wiggins scored on an overthrow after advancing to third on a wild pitch.
In the sixth, Phillips led off with a walk and then scored on Alford's single up the middle, which invoked the mercy rule.
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at email@example.com.