Haley Andrus said she doesn’t remember hitting two home runs in a game before. Maybe she’ll remember the time she hit three.
The Baylor slugger’s seven-RBI performance was the difference in Tuesday’s slugfest at Baylor. The Lady Red Raiders won 16-9 over GPS and seized early-season control in Division II-AA’s East/Middle Region.
Wind blew consistently toward the outfield during the game, gusting at times, and Andrus said that was important for the hitters. If it helped her at all it would’ve been on her high fly to right field leading off the bottom of the fifth inning that landed behind the fence.
Her three-run blasts to nearly the same spot in left-center in the third and fourth didn’t need any aid. Six home runs were hit in all.
“Both teams, the ones hit, they were gone,” Baylor coach Kelli Smith said. “They were all just rockets off the bat.”
Andrus, who lined out in her first at-bat, explained that throughout her at-bats she wasn’t doing anything more than looking for pitches to her liking. She walked in her final plate appearance and ended up scoring.
“It’s just that it was a big game and I really needed to do my best,” she said.
That focus also carried over into the field.
“She had a great day at third base, too,” Smith said. “She made some really good plays.”
Batting right in front of her in the No. 3 spot — the position Andrus batted in all last season as an eighth-grader — Marion County transfer Cassie Pickett went 5-for-5 with doubles in her first and last at-bats. In front of her, Noelle Winkles was 4-for-5 with an RBI and three runs scored.
Linsey Yates was 3-for-3 for Baylor (13-3, 4-0) with an RBI double and a two-run single. Lauren Lewis had Baylor’s other home run — a two-run drive down the left-field line — and hit a run-scoring single.
“They’re an awfully good hitting team,” GPS coach Susan Crownover said. “They can do that to people.”
Five batters into the game the Bruisers were ahead on the strength of eighth-grader Abbey Anderson’s grand slam. It was 6-1 before Andrus reduced the margin with her first home run, and the Lady Raiders never trailed after their six-run fourth.
“We came out and put four on the board quickly,” Crownover said. “Then they came back with one or two; then we came back with one or two. Then we just couldn’t get them out.”
Smith, who was dealing with a stomach virus, expressed pride in her most experienced pitcher, Kaitie Sims, for her stick-to-it-iveness after giving up the early deficit. The coach said her players are expected to tough things out, so she felt she should, too.
Tayana Fernandez topped GPS (8-6, 3-1) with a 3-for-4 game, and Bailey Davenport, Katy Richardson, Morgan Lane and Kelby Crownover added two hits apiece. Lane had the Bruisers’ other homer, good for two runs in the fourth.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.