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Red Devils win numbers game: Hot start, Patel pitching help Russell defeat Rams

Mar. 25—RACELAND — Russell opened with fours.

Raceland answered with threes.

After a pair of big innings by both clubs, the starting pitchers made sure no more numbers dented the scoreboard.

The Red Devils recorded four runs in the first and third innings before halting a comeback bid by their 63rd District rivals for an 8-6 win on the Rams' new turf field.

First-year Russell coach Destiny Goins said she liked the way her team finished after the hot start at the plate.

"I think what I'm most proud of is even if they weren't performing at the plate," Goins said, "they didn't carry that over into the field. We played well in the field tonight. We hit well. We had a few ups and downs. We had a few scoreless innings. Overall, I am really happy that they did not let it affect their field play."

Raceland posted six runs over the second and third frames but could not overcome the early deficit against Red Devils starter Audrey Patel in the circle.

"We started off hitting two batters and gave up a couple of big hits to a really good team," Raceland coach Scott Adkins said. "I'm not taking anything away from them. They are a good team. They are coached well and they played hard. We just couldn't get that groove going in the first inning and they did what they did to us. We battled. We tell our girls to try and win every inning. We didn't do that tonight."

Patel helped herself after a 3-of-4 night at the plate but didn't give up much after the third inning. The senior allowed just one hit over the last four frames and retired 14 of the final 15 batters she faced.

"She just wipes it off and focuses on the task at hand," Goins said. "She's not going to let it get into her head. She goes out there and does what she has to do."

Rams starter Davanna Grubb didn't let up in the closing innings either. The junior hurler recorded three 1-2-3 innings and sent down 13 of the 16 batters in the closing moments. Russell (4-2) tried to tack on insurance runs with a pair of base runners in the seventh stanza but Grubb pitched her way out of the jam with a groundout to keep Raceland within two runs heading into their final at-bat.

"She does a very good job," Adkins said of Grubb, "and she did well tonight. We just didn't get the calls we wanted. She made the adjustments herself. She regrouped and finished strong. She put in a good performance but they just outhit us."

The Red Devils opened the game with the bases loaded after a pair of hit batters and a Rams' fielding error. Patel ripped a two-RBI double to the outfield wall. Lili Smith stole home before Bella Hall came to the plate. Hall responded by driving in Patel with a single.

Smith opened the third for Russell with a solo shot over the center field wall. The bottom of the order took their turn to stretch the Red Devils' lead. Ava Howard connected with a double and moved to third on a wild pitch. Reese Cameron walked and Karson Honaker sent a stinging double down the third-base line to score two. Ella Wilson sent another to the plate with a base hit.

"We got contributions from the top and bottom (of the order) at different times," Goins said, "and getting that to stream together is what we need to focus on now. I am proud of my lineup tonight."

Raceland (5-1) threatened in the bottom of the first and put two runners in scoring position but did not push one across. Peyton Mackie came to the plate in the second frame in a better scenario. The bases were full of Rams and the sophomore cashed in with a tailing fly ball to right field that found fair territory. The base-clearing two-out two-strike triple pulled the Rams back within a run.

Reagan Mackie brought home a run with a double in the next frame. Lily Poplin came to the batter's box with a runner on base and sent a blast to right field. The ball bounced off the top of the orange monster and into the tall grass beyond the fence for a two-run homer.

The scoring chances over the final four innings were nearly nonexistent and the Red Devils opened district-seeding play with a victory.

Raceland falls to 1-1 and will entertain Greenup County on Thursday before departing on their spring break trip.

Poplin knocked in two runs and scored a pair for the Rams. Kali Vance was 2 for 4 at the plate.

Smith scored twice for Russell.

Goins, a former assistant and head coach at Raceland, made her first trip back as the new Red Devils coach. The former three-sport star at Boyd County has enjoyed each of her coaching stops but looks forward to a bright future at Russell.

"It's different for sure," Goins said. "I wish Raceland the best. I'm with a new group of girls now. I feel I'm where I'm supposed to be at."

RUSSELL 404 000 0 — 8 8 0

RACELAND 033 000 0 — 6 8 1

Patel and Highfield; Grubb and Vance. W—Patel. L—Grubb. 2B—Patel (Ru), Howard (Ru), Honaker (Ru), Vance (Ra), R. Mackie (Ra). 3B—P. Mackie (Ra). HR—Smith (Ru), Poplin (Ra).

(606) 326-2671 — msparks@dailyindependent.com