Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer|
Rebecca Stephenson makes it safely to second base as Decatur shortstop Lindsey Hawkins can't come up with the throw.
Decatur bats batter
Austin Seven different Lady Raiders get hits in win over city rival
By Brooke Milam
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Decatur High softball coach Ashley Mueller says there's always room for improvement. But Monday night, for the Lady Red Raiders, it didn't get much better than beating rival Austin 9-3 with a solid effort all the way around.
Still: "Not as solid as I'd like," Mueller said.
The contest between city rivals played at Austin High's field was rained out March 15, but Mueller said her Lady Red Raiders, ranked second in Class 5A, were "probably more up" for Austin now than they were two weeks ago.
Decatur (28-8) and Austin (8-23) will meet again April 30 at 6 p.m. at Decatur High's Kiwanis Field to conclude the regular season.
On Monday, Decatur used powerful and timely hitting to put away the Lady Black Bears.
Seven Lady Red Raiders recorded at least one hit, something Mueller said has been common this season.
"We're very contagious hitters," Mueller said.
Austin coach Butch Wright said the game also reflected a trend for his Lady Black Bears.
"We've been playing people close but giving up big innings," Wright said. "But we didn't give it to them. It wasn't because of errors — they were just hitting the ball."
Decatur had two big innings, posting all nine of its runs off eight hits in two innings, scoring four times in the second and five times in the fifth.
The Lady Raiders' four second-inning runs gave them a 4-0 lead.
Austin answered with a run in the bottom of the second when Ali Barnette drove in Rebecca Stephenson, cutting Decatur's advantage to 4-1.
The score stood at 4-1 until the Lady Red Raiders exploded for their big inning in the fifth for a 9-1 lead.
The Lady Black Bears added a run in the sixth when Amy Anderson scored on an RBI single by Lauren Lindsey.
The final Austin run was in the seventh inning when Barnette drove in Melissa Thompson.
For Decatur, winning pitcher Mollie Russell had a double and a single, while Jelisa Thompson had two singles.
Also for the Lady Red Raiders, Whitney Fletcher, Jennifer Lawrence, Lindsey Hawkins, Amanda Tidwell and Abi Lott each had a single.
"Decatur did a good job," Wright said. "Decatur hit the ball, and they focused in and got the hits at the right time."
Decatur's Mollie Russell got the win, pitching a complete game for the Lady Red Raiders and striking out four.
Elizabeth Gillespie, Kristen Hill and Haley Barnette each spent time on the mound for Austin.
Both Decatur and Austin will face area opponents at home Tuesday. The Lady Red Raiders host Hartselle at 6 p.m., while the Lady Black Bears will host Bob Jones at 4:30.
Wright said that with his team 1-1 in Class 6A, Area 16 play, memories of Monday's rivalry game will have to take a back seat.
"After the game I told them they've got to stay focused," Wright said.
"I told them, 'Keep your head up. You've got Bob Jones tomorrow.' "
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