Polk softball trounces North Henderson 11-2

Published 8:00 pm Monday, April 28, 2014


After a brief hiccup, Polk County High School’s varsity softball team is riding a 12-4 overall mark (5-3 in the conference) after trouncing Avery County and North Henderson last week.
On April 24, freshman Ashley Scruggs kept North Henderson batters off balance with a mix of blazing speed and occasional slower offerings, as Polk defeated the Knights, 11-2.
Scruggs got lots of support from her hitters and fielders. Catcher Ashley Kropp put away four foul pops in two innings, twice diving to snare the ball before it touched down. Right fielder Alexis McCraw caught at least five fly balls late in the game to keep Polk well ahead. McCraw added three RBI, as did Maddy Foy.
Wolverine batters used patience at the plate to drive in two runs on walks.
“Im so proud of our defense,” remarked head coach Jeff Wilson after the contest. “Our pitching kept them off balance.” Wilson lauded Polk’s “timely hitting, small-ball contribution” and the teamwork of “unselfish girls.”
“We’ve got so much respect for North Henderson,” Wilson added.
“We play for one run at a time,” Wilson noted, as his team once again followed that script on Thursday, as the Wolverines took a 1-0 lead (courtesy of an RBI hit by McCraw) into the home second.
In the home second, a routine grounder to short put a Polk batter at first on a bad throw. Ashley Ponder followed with an intended sacrifice bunt, but the Knights’ pitcher threw high to second, and both runners were safe. Kinsley Jackson followed with another intended sacrifice bunt, but a wild throw enabled Brown to reach second, and two runs to score. Polk led, 3-0. Hayley Kropp’s single (Kropp took second on the throw), scored Jackson, to make it 4-0, with no one out.
Brittany Jones, who helped Polk on both defense and at the plate later in the game, grounded out, sending Kropp to third. Ashley Kropp stepped to the plate and was hit by a pitch.
Scruggs bunted to move the runners, but her bunt was placed so well that the Knights could make no play and the bases were full of Wolverines.
McCraw then blistered a pitch over the third base tender’s head for an RBI single, the bases remaining full, as Polk led 5-0. Maddy Foy walked to drive in run number six, and another walk made it 7-0.
North Henderson escaped further damage with some good defense of its own, as Ashley Ponder’s pop up was caught by the shortstop, who threw home to nail McCraw who tried to score from third.
The Wolverines did play for one run at a time, but patience and putting the ball in play paid bigger dividends as they took a 7-0 lead into the third.
North Henderson scored twice in the fourth, but one of those runs cost the Knights an out, as Polk hung up and tagged out a runner between first and second.
The Wolverines wasted no time getting back those two and then some. Ashley Kropp walked to lead off the home fourth, bringing Scruggs to the plate. Kropp raced to second on a wild pitch. Scruggs popped out, but McCraw walked to put runners on first and second, just before a wild pitch sent them each ahead one station.
Maddy Foy drilled a triple to right to score Kropp and Scruggs. Foy initially held her ground on a squeeze bunt, but scored after North Henderson blinked first and threw wild to the plate. Kinsley Jackson was safe at first, and a run scored on her infield grounder and the subsequent bad throw to first.
That made it 11-2, Polk, where it stayed and Scruggs continued to pitch nearly flawlessly through the seventh.
Other notable action came from Brittany Jones. In the top of the fifth, with two outs, a North Henderson batter struck a single and tried to go to third on another single.
The throw to third was perfect. Jones held her ground, and the ball, as the much larger runner crashed into her and bowled her over. Jones stayed down, with some knee pain, but after being helped off the field, led off the home half with a line triple to right.
“I didn’t know if I was going to hit,” Jones stated after the game. Ashley Scruggs bunted, and was called out at first, though the first sacker seemed to have no foot within a step of the bag. Jones held her ground, and was left on base.
On April 22, “We played out of our mind,” said Wilson, after the Wolverines pounded Avery County, 16-0, in conference action.
Scruggs had a perfect game for three and two-thirds innings, but was pulled after Avery made its first hit. Kassidy Reynolds finished the game and maintained the shutout.
Polk’s big boppers were Kinsley jackson who went three-for-three, including an over-the-fence homer; Hayley Kropp, who went three-for-four with a homer over the fence; and Ashley Kropp, Maddy Foy and Jones, who popped two hits apiece.
In JV action, Polk scored twice in the bottom of the seventh, to edge Avery County, 14-13, on April 22. “We did a lot of good things,” Wilson said.
On Thursday, however, North Henderson hammered the Wolverines (4-5), 17-0.
“They were better than we were. They beat us into the dirt,” said Wilson.
Polk played at Mitchell on Friday, April 25 and visits Mountain Heritage on Tuesday, April 29. Wednesday’s varsity and JV games against Rosman were cancelled.
The Wolverines visit Owen for varsity-only action on May 2. Game time is 6 p.m.

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