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Softball: Denmark run-rules Lanier for 1st win
Denmark graphic 08-11-22

After being held to two total runs in its opener, Denmark scored three runs in three separate innings en route to a 10-2 win in five innings over Lanier Thursday at home.

The Danes answered single runs by the Longhorns in each of the first two frames with three-spots in the home half of both innings. Denmark, which fell to Cambridge by a 7-2 margin two days prior, scored once in the third and helped end the game early with three more tallies in the fourth.

“We talked about swinging the bat with the confidence that they earned to swing the bat with,” Danes head coach Savannah Huffstetler said. “I don’t think we looked very confident at the plate on Tuesday. Cambridge is a great opponent, and that will happen to you. But the girls have put in the amount of work to earn the right to swing out of their shoes every now and then.

“We talked about it [Wednesday], if we’re going to go down, let’s go down swinging — literally. That was kind of the mindset. I think we saw that a little bit better today.”

In the first inning, Denmark (1-1) tied the score on Grace Welicky’s RBI double to score Madeleine Knop. With two outs, Ellery Campbell floated a soft single over Lanier’s first baseman to drive home two huge runs.

The Danes put together a two-out rally in the second inning after the visitors had pulled back to within 3-2.

Knop kickstarted things with her second walk in as many innings. Jordan Williams, who finished 3-for-3, laced a triple to the fence in right-center field to extend the lead. Sara Harris followed with a run-scoring hit to bring home Williams, and Harris wound up crossing the plate on a Lanier throwing error later in the inning.

The fourth frame could have seen another three-run outburst by the Danes, but a runner got thrown out at home by a considerable margin for the second out of the inning. It was one of the few times aggressiveness on the base paths backfired for the hosts, who racked up five stolen bases in the game.

“We want to put pressure on people,” Huffstetler said. “We want to make them make mistakes. We talk about creating chaos a lot.

“Sometimes it bites us. I made a mistake there, no doubt about that. But there’s a ball in the corner, and they have to make two good throws, two good catches and a tag? I’m going to take my chances.”

Even still, Denmark managed to push across one run in the fourth inning, as Hannah Golden drove in Riley Bord.

Any chance the Longhorns had of getting back in the game seemed to go out the window when the Danes produced five straight hits to begin the bottom of the fourth.

Williams and Harris registered back-to-back singles before Welicky roped a double to left field. Avery Callaway followed with an RBI single, pushing Denmark’s advantage to 9-2 and forcing a Lanier pitching change.

The move eventually paid off for the Longhorns but not until after Campbell’s infield hit gave the Danes the eight-run advantage needed to wrap things up in five innings.

“She’s definitely a kid we can always count on to put the ball in play and make some crazy things happen and run around them a little bit,” Huffstetler said of Campbell. “She’s just one of those scrappy kids. …Wherever we put her, she’ll do her job.”

Left-hander Kennedy Pickett took it from there, striking out a pair in the fifth. The sophomore punched out four on the day and limited Lanier to just one hit over the final three frames.

“She definitely settled in,” Huffstetler said of Pickett. “We talked about, ‘Let’s go at them. We have a good defense, so let’s let the defense work. Let’s throw less pitches. I want to see you go a complete game, and we’re not going to get there if we keep going 3-2 on everybody.’

“She started getting ahead better, really settled in and started getting groundball outs.”

Having opened the season with two home games — it would have been three if not for a rain out — Denmark will begin a long stretch away from its friendly confines, starting with a trip Saturday to defending Class 7A champion North Gwinnett.

“It’s kind of good to get the first win, get the monkey off your back,” Huffstetler said. “Nerves are kind of out now. We play the state champs on Saturday. There will be nothing easy about that, for sure, but it’s nice to go in to that game off of a win.”