Noel attempts bunt_crop

Bulldogs split with Kilgore in regular-season finale

By MIKE PHILLIPS / Corsicana Daily Sun —

Kristen Ahearn was mad, steaming.

Even her peanut butter and jelly sandwich that she ate between the doubleheader games didn’t taste good. Nothing fit. Nothing was in sync. Nothing felt right or even tasted right.

Then Ahearn found the cure.

Simple enough: Just go out and blast a three-run homer.

That’s the short version of what happened Tuesday at Navarro College, where Ahearn’s three-run bomb ignited the Bulldogs in the second game against Kilgore and Navarro went on to win 8-5 to close out its regular season with a bang and a smile from Ahearn.

“I was really mad,” said Ahearn, who was upset after she made the final out in Game 1 — a 5-4 loss to Kilgore in which Navarro had runners at second and third with two outs when Ahearn hit a sharp grounder to second for the final out .

“As soon as I hit that ball (to second) I wanted it back,” she said. “When I was eating my sandwich between games I was ticked. I was still kind of heated when I was eating.”

No one at Navarro took the loss well, The Bulldogs  just don’t lose much. They wrapped up the regular season by running away with the Region XIV East Zone title with a 17-3 record and left the field with some momentum going into the Region Tournament at Lufkin May 1-4.

The Bulldogs erupted for eight runs in the first two innings of the second game and coasted to the win, thanks to Ahearn’s homer in the bottom of the first. Trailing 1-0, she got hold of a 3-2 pitch and sent it over the left field fence, bringing in Mo Miller and Jade Havard.

“We didn’t want to lose our last game. We didn’t want to get swept at home,” said Ahearn, who has hit eight homers this season. She said Tuesday’s was one of the best, next to a grand slam she hit against Trinity Valley.

It seemed to lift the Bulldogs.

“It picked us up,” Navarro Coach Jessica Karenke said. “She’s been hitting the ball hard. It’s great to finish the season off with a win at home. We’ve had a great year, but right now it doesn’t mean anything. It’s a whole new season. We’re excited. We’ve got a week to rest and regroup.”

The Bulldogs scored five runs in the second inning. Eden Favela reached on an error and Kristin Lopez doubled her to third before a sacrifice fly from Daniele Jetton brought Favela home. Destiny Kennedy, who had three hits and drove inn three runs in the opening game, singled and Miller walked to load the bases. Havard singled n a run and Ahearn hit a grounder past Kilgore’s second baseman and two runs came flying home (i.e. Miller flying in from second base). Alysa Dotson brought in the fifth run of the inning with a grounder to second.

Karenke used four pitchers in the second game, including starter Camrie Helm, who went three innings and gave up two runs on five hits while striking out five. Britney Bledsoe pitched two perfect innings and Olivia Farmer pitched well but had some tough luck. She struck out three in the sixth and would have been out of the inning without allowing a run when it appeared that left fielder Kennedy had thrown out the third out of the inning at the plate. But the umpire ruled the runner was safe and a second run scored after a dropped third strike kept the inning alive.

Ciera Luna, who started and gave up only three earned runs while taking the loss in the opener, finished up for Navarro in the second game.

Ahearn said it was time to get back to Navarro softball and felt confident going into the tournament.

“We just didn’t come out and play our game (in the 5-4 loss). We need to focus going into the region tournament,” Ahearn said. “We just need to get back to playing our game.”

She left the field smiling with no trace of the PB&J sandwich or the anger of losing the first game.