Fairfield Ledger

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Neighbors Growing Together | Jun 25, 2018

Bowman, Watson, Beard star in win

By ALLAN MANDELL, Ledger sports editor | Jun 21, 2017
Photo by: ALLAN MANDELL Trojan outfielders Lily Hoskins (33), Kaylee Watson (center) and Brynna Bowman go through their pre-inning rituals of high-fives, low-fives and soft kick-fives on Tuesday against Albia. Hoskins played flawless in left field all game. Watson had the game-winning hit and Bowman scored the game-winning run.



Tuesday night, bottom of the sixth.

The host Fairfield Trojans, ranked No. 2 in Class 4A, were locked in a scoreless tie with Class 3A Albia, ranked No. 14.

This was a thriller.

Fairfield’s leadoff batter, and top hitter with a team-high .460 average, Brynna Bowman stepped to the plate to begin the frame.

Up to this point, Lady Dee freshman hurler Jena Lawrence had struck out nine Trojans in five innings and yielded only one hit, an infield single to Ashtyn Drish back in the fourth frame.

“On my first at-bat of the game, I got a rise-ball from her,” Bowman said. “After that, she was giving me straight fastballs.”

So, to start the bottom of the sixth, Bowman was ready.

“She was hiding the ball good but she was trying to get ahead in the count and threw a fastball,” Bowman said. “I saw it. I finally had gotten a read on the spin of the ball.”

Bowman swung at the first pitch and hit a line shot right back at Lawrence. The ball ricocheted off Lawrence — and by the time she found it, the super speedy Bowman had crossed first base.

Trojan Shay Drish stepped to the plate with orders to bunt. She squared up, and Lawrence’s first-pitch fastball went over Drish’s head — and over catcher Alex Beard’s head.

Bowman raced over to second base.

Beard is a fine catcher, and Albia has a strong infield.

But Bowman is a crafty, savvy veteran.

“Honestly, I was just going for second base,” she said. “But I saw no one was covering third base and I looked over at (head coach) Bob (Bradfield) and we have a good mental telepathy and I could tell he thought I could make it, so I thought I could get there.”

Bowman turned on the jets.

A stunned Beard did make a toss to third baseman Rylee Leshen — but Bowman slid well ahead of the tag.

Lawrence then walked Shay Drish after four more pitches.

Ashtyn Drish, with her .443 batting average, stepped to the plate.

“We just needed Ashtyn to make contact,” Bowman said. “I knew she’d get the bat on the ball.”

Lawrence got ahead of Ashtyn Drish, 0-2.

“I just wanted to make sure I put the ball in play,” Ashtyn Drish said. “She’s a very good pitcher but I knew I could not strikeout. Put it in play.”

Drish swung, made the proper contact, and Lawrence had to move backwards to grab the grounder. Lawrence gave a glance at Bowman, who wisely held up, then tossed to first.

And Drish had beaten the throw.

So the bags were loaded. Cleanup hitter Kaylee Watson stepped to the plate.

“I thought, ‘Good Lord, can I please just get a base hit?’” Watson said.

Lawrence quickly worked Watson to an 0-2 count. Watson then fouled off the next pitch.

“It was inside and high,” Watson said. “Then, the next pitch, she pitched me inside, waist high. I just pulled it and took it to left field.”

It was a heck of a hit by Watson — on a fly, the ball kissed off the left field fence.

“I didn’t watch it,” Watson said. “I just knew I needed to get to first very fast.”

The base runners, of course, needed to hold.

“I turned around and I thought it was out of the park,” Bowman said. “But, no matter what, I knew I’d be able to tag up and go home.”

Albia left fielder Kenzie Curran had raced back to the fence, but the ball landed far behind her. Bowman trotted home and Shay Drish scored from second.

Fairfield led 2-0.

“I did see their left fielder throwing it in and I was thinking, ‘Thank you, Lord,’” Watson said.

Trojan ace hurler Haley Beard was in the dugout.

“I thought Kaylee’s hit was out, too,” Beard said. “I was ready to go out and congratulate her at home plate. I just wanted to hug her. It was an awesome hit.

“And I was not gonna let us down after that.”

Lawrence and Albia got out of the sixth with no more damage.

Meanwhile, Beard was having a sensational night. She had struck out 10 Albia batters in the first six innings, while yielding only two scattered hits and zero walks.

And she breezed through the final frame: fly out, ground out, pop out.

“Haley was a stud,” Ashtyn Drish said.

Said Watson, “Haley was phenomenal.”

The 2-0 win lifted Fairfield’s record to 23-3. Albia fell to 16-6.

“Albia has stuck with a lot of the same teams we’ve been playing,” Bowman said.

“Their pitcher has very good spin on her pitches — but I knew eventually we’d get our bats going.”



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