In a span of about 10 minutes, it all slipped away from the Salem softball team Thursday in Conyers. Heritage took advantage of sloppy defense and sent 10 batters to the plate in a seven-run fourth inning to pull away from Salem, 9-1 in a five-inning game.
Heritage remained unbeaten at 5-0 and 4-0 in Region 8-AAAAA while Salem dropped to 1-4 overall and 0-3 in league play. Heritage led just 2-1 heading into the fourth inning, but things quickly unraveled for visiting Salem. Kierra Camp and Kamryn Toney had consecutive singles to start the frame and Heidi Shepherd reached on a catcher’s interference to load the bases. Jamiya Barker’s sharply-hit ground ball was misplayed by shortstop Alexis Chisman and pinch-runner Ta’lor Bynum and Toney scored to make it 4-1. LaKaitlen Barney followed with a squeeze bunt attempt that pitcher Whitney Lester bobbled, leading to another run and a 5-1 cushion. The Patriots again utilized the squeeze play and Diamond Callwood’s bunt got past Lester and between first base and second and when the throw went to first - Callwood was safe - both Barker and Barney scored to put the Patriots up 7-1. After Addy Allegretti’s third hit of the night, Taylor Moser’s triple and an RBI-ground out by Carri Wilkerson made it a 9-1 game.
The Salem defense had been good through the first two innings. In the opening frame, Lester made a great play to nip Callwood at first when the Heritage shortstop tried to beat out a drag bunt. Later in the inning, after Allegretti (double) and Moser (single) had teamed up to tie the game at 1-1, Camp’s long fly ball was tracked down in front of the fence by center fielder Taylor Sparks to save a run and get Lester out of trouble.
In the second, Chisman made a nice play of a pop up behind second to take a hit away from Shepherd.
Salem’s defense began to slip in the third and Heritage took the lead for good at 2-1 when Callwood reached on an error by Lane Powell at second and scored on Allegretti’s single.
Heritage came into the game having shut out its first four opponents, but it took the visiting Seminoles four batters to put an end to that streak. Facing Camp in the first, Powell struck out, but reached on a passed ball by Shepherd. With two outs, Lester lifted a soft fly ball to right field that slipped under Barker’s glove, sending Powell home and Lester to third. Unfortunately for Salem, Camp was masterful from that point on.
The right-hander, who is committed to Georgia Southern, threw an abbreviated no-hitter - her second no-hitter in three starts - and struck out 13 batters.
Heritage will play in the Softball in the Sand Tournament this weekend in Brunswick, while Salem has the weekend off before traveling to Gainesville Tuesday.