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Prep softball: Moravia continuing to develop winning habits

MORAVIA — The Moravia softball team isn't just learning how to win. They're learning how to celebrate.

Alexa Bedford broke one of Moravia's newest celebrations on Friday following an 11-1 Bluegrass Conference win over Moulton-Udell at Lady Mohawk Field. After collecting four hits at the plate while allowing just two hits over five innings in the pitching circle, Bedford did a few forward rolls in the left field with her teammates following closely behind.

"She always does them before the game when we're stretching," Moravia sophomore Breegan Ellison said. "When we win, she'll either do push-ups or forward rolls and we'll count them to see how many she can do."

Bedford got to five on Friday. Was it to signify the number of innings that Moravia needed to clinch their third win of the season? Or was it to signify the total number of bases Bedford collected with her double and three singles against the Eagles?

"It was just how many I could do before I got tired," Bedford joked.

"Or, until she gets dizzy," Ellison added. "Layla Ewing also did a couple of squats with Finley (Spencer) on her back."

The postgame celebration certainly showed both the athletic ability and high energy of the Moravia softball squad this season. The Mohawks finished the second week of the season splitting six games including a win on Saturday over Davis County to close out the Mustangs' home triangular tournament scoring 11 runs in the fifth inning on the way to a 13-5 victory in Moravia's most explosive effort of the season.

"We've been able to put a lot of hitters on base. The girls have really been hitting the ball lately," Moravia head softball coach Ashley Beals said. "Our girls are not only hitting the ball consistently, but they're hitting the ball hard. That really helps us, especially from girls in the middle of the line-up. Those crucial hits are really making things happen."

Both Ellison and Bedford produced four-hit efforts at the plate on Friday for Moravia, answering back after Moulton-Udell came out swinging. Zoie Simkoff opened the game with a base hit for the Eagles, moved up to second base on a groundout and came home on a fielding error on a ball hit up the middle into center field by Miah Burgher putting M-U ahead 1-0 just three batters into the battle of Bluegrass Conference rivals.

"The biggest thing with us is that we are very young in a lot of spots. We only have one senior (Kaitlyn Lancaster) and this is only her second year on the team," M-U head softball coach Jason Ogden said. "We came out with good intensity. If we make a few more plays defensively, it could have been a different game."

Moravia was able to tie the game up in the bottom of the first as the first two hits for Ellison and Bedford, with a wild pitch mixed in between, drove in the first run for the Mohawks. The Eagles put another runner in scoring position to open the second inning before Bedford began to take control, striking out consecutive batters before throwing out Lancaster on an inning-ending groundout to keep the score tied at 1-1.

"I've worked on a lot of my pitches and on my placement," Bedford said. "It's starting to feel like it's all coming together."

Moravia took the lead for good in the bottom of the second after Jaida Spencer walked with one out and scored with two outs on a well-placed groundball by Layla Ewing that allowed Leah DeJong to beat a throw to third for a potential inning-ending force out. Ellison opened each of the next two innings with doubles, ultimately scoring on RBI hits by Bedford who would also come home to score in each inning as the Mohawks built an 8-1 lead after four innings.

"I was definitely in a slump at the beginning of the year. I put in a lot of time with my dad working on my swing," Ellison said. "I feel like I'm starting to make good, solid contact. My attitude going into each at-bat had a lot to do with my slump, plus my posture. I've been working on standing up straighter and working on my position in the batter's box. We had to work at making me uncomfortable to help me hit that ball."

After traveling to Central Decatur on Monday, Moravia (4-7, 2-1 Bluegrass) returns to conference play at Bussey on Tuesday to face No. 13 (1A) Twin Cedars. Moulton-Udell (0-3, 0-3 Bluegrass) is off until making a trip to Mormon Trail on Thursday, the first of four games in three straight days for the Eagles.

"Playing innings is kind of our goal right now to get a feel where we're at," Ogden said. "For us to come out and give ourselves the opportunities to do some things is something the kids can learn from."