Trojan girls up winning streak, sweep Keokuk
With the Trojans clinging to a 5-3 lead in the top of the seventh inning and Keokuk runners occupying every base, Sydney Burnett could only hear the yells of her parents to “go get it” as a ball was hit to the gap in left-center field.
Burnett didn’t need to hear her parents’ advice twice. The fleet-footed center fielder reacted almost instantly to the hard-hit ball, racing to her right and leaving the ground for a game-saving catch in the opener of Thursday’s Southeast Conference doubleheader in Fairfield.
Burnett knew she had to make the risky play. If she instead played the ball safe and let it fall for a hit, Keokuk would have tied the game, or possibly worse.
“I was thinking that if I didn’t get it we were going to lose,” said the junior. “There really wasn’t any other choice [than to dive].”
Burnett added she enjoys the pressure of those late-game moments, “especially when it turns out my way, but not so much if it goes the other way,” she said. “But it feels good after.”
The opening 5-3 win was the first of two for the Trojans (9-3, 4-2 SEC) Thursday, as they later cruised to an 8-1 win in the nightcap to complete the conference sweep. The two home victories upped Fairfield’s winning streak to six games overall and four straight in the conference.
“Our goal was to win all four conference games this week and we won four, so that was great. Hopefully we’ll build on that this weekend and into our important matchup with Mount Pleasant Monday,” said Fairfield head coach Bob Bradfield. “The wins keep us in the conference hunt. It’s still early, but we’re right there.”
In the opener, the Trojans raced out to a 2-1 lead in the first inning, as Burnett scored on an error and Karley Williams knocked in Katie Anderson. Burnett again came around to score to kick off the Trojans’ three-run fifth. Mackenzie McClure knocked in Kenady Waugh with a double and later scored on a wild pitch in the inning.
The four-run lead would hold up until the top of the seventh, when Keokuk scored two and looked primed to score more before Burnett’s tremendous catch, which Bradfield said helped carry Fairfield to the nightcap win.
“The catch was good momentum for the team. Everyone gets excited on a play like that,” said Bradfield. “Good teams have players who step up in crucial moments, and that was certainly a huge play in a big moment.”
“She’s always been a great fielder for us, but it would be hard for even her to top that,” he added.
Waugh went 2-for-3 with a double to pace the Trojans to six hits in the contest. Freshman Alli Deao picked up the win, going all seven innings and allowing two earned runs on eight hits. The starter struck out five.
Using their newfound momentum in the nightcap, the Trojans opened with a three-run first inning. Burnett, who finished the second game 4-for-4 with two doubles, slapped her first two-bagger from the leadoff spot, and Burnett and Waugh later scored on a double hit by McClure. With two outs in the inning, McClure crossed home on a wild pitch to up the lead to 3-0.
The Trojans added to their advantage in the bottom of the third, as Waugh hit an RBI single to score Burnett, and Marisa Repp and Williams also knocked in one run each. Repp hit another double in the fifth, and consecutive passed balls got her home to comfortably push Fairfield’s lead to 7-0.
Waugh was 2-for-3 in the game with two runs scored, Repp finished 2-for-4 with two runs and McClure was 1-for-3 with a triple and two RBI.
The top of the lineup provided most of the run support, although freshmen Mackenzi Harwood and Kelsey Roberts came through off the bench with one hit each.
Haley Grunwald was the winning pitcher for Fairfield. The senior kept Keokuk off the scoreboard the first six innings, allowing one run — none earned — with seven strikeouts.
Fairfield opens the Fairfield Invitational today at 6:30 p.m. behind the middle school. Its first round game is against Chariton.
Fairfield vs. Keokuk (Game 1)
Keokuk – 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 — 3 8 4
Fairfield – 2 0 0 0 3 0 0 — 5 6 2
FAIRFIELD — Burnett 1-4, 2R; Anderson 1-4, R; Waugh 2-3, 2B, R; McClure 1-3, 2B, RBI, R; M. Roberts 1-3
Pitching — Deao (W) 7 INN, 3R, 2ER, 8H, 5K, 0BB
Fairfield vs. Keokuk (Game 2)
Keokuk – 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 — 1 6 3
Fairfield – 3 0 3 0 1 1 0 — 8 11 3
FAIRFIELD — Burnett 4-4, 2(2B), RBI, 2R; Waugh 2-3, RBI, 2R; Repp 2-4, 2(2B), RBI, 2R; Harwood 1-1, R; K. Roberts 1-1; McClure 1-3, 3B, 2RBI, R
Pitching — Grunwald (W) 7 INN, R, 0ER, 6H, 7K, BB