Published Date Written by Lloyd JonesCONWAY — The Kennett High softball team slugged its way through the opening round of the Division II playoffs Wednesday afternoon earning a spot in the Elite 8. The third seeded Eagles scored 13 runs over the first three innings on their way to a comfortable 14-7 victory over visiting Bishop Brady, the No. 14 seeds.
Kennett will host No. 11 Milford on Saturday in the quarterfinals. Milford went on the road Wednesday and upset No. 6 Pembroke Academy 2-0.
The Spartans and Eagles did not meet during the regular season. Milford, who went 10-6 during the season, comes to Conway having won eight of its last nine ball games.
The Spartans will face a hungry Kennett (14-4) squad that feasted on Bishop Brady pitching early and often on Wednesday.
The Giants got a runner on in the first inning, but any scoring threat ended when senior catcher Faye Roberts gunned out the Brady player trying to steal second with a perfect throw to second baseman Sam Janos, who applied the tag. That play came on the heels of a fine running catch in left-field by Jordan Murphy.
Peter Ames' troops carried that momentum into the bottom of the first and scored four runs. Murphy, who reached base three times on the afternoon and stole three bases, had an infield single and stole second to start the inning. Kaylin Samia was hit by a pitch; Roberts ripped a single up the middle to knock in a run; Lauren White hit a two-run double to left-field that would have cleared the fence if the fielder hadn't gotten a glove on the ball to keep it in the park; and Jordyn Moore knocked in White with a single to center.
The Eagles added four more runs in the bottom of the second frame to go in front 8-0. The runs came in a familiar fashion. Murphy led off with an infield hit and stole second, Samia got hit by a pitch, again; Roberts hit a bloop single to center to load the bases; White drew a bases loaded walk to score a run; Moore drove in a run on a ground out to short; Ashley Smith knocked in a run when her line drive to right-field was misplayed; and Janos picked up an RBI on a ground out to second.
KHS put the game on cruise control in the bottom of the third with five more runs for a 13-0 advantage. All of the runs came with two outs. Samia doubled to center; Roberts had a run scoring single with her third hit in as many innings; White drew an intentional walk; Moore had a run scoring single to center; Smith singled to center; Janos had an RBI single to right; Moore came home on an infield error; and Smith scored on a wild pitch.
Junior Shelby Hill had all of the offensive support she needed and looked in control on the mound for KHS. The lone hiccup came in the fourth inning during the rain. The Giants managed to take advantage of a few Kennett fielding miscues to score six runs in the inning. It could have been worse, but the defense found itself right in the nick of time. With runners on second and third, a Brady player got a base hit to center-field to score a run and the runner from second tried to score, too, but Samia unleashed a cannon of a throw on a perfect line to Roberts, who fielded the ball on a hop while colliding with the base runner but held on for the out. Roberts then threw a strike to Moore at third, who tagged the hitter for a double play to end the inning.
Kennett added an insurance run in the bottom of the fourth when Murphy scored on a passed ball.
Samia added to her solid all-around day with a great sliding catch on her knees in the top of the seventh for the first Brady out of the inning. The Giants were able to load the bases and score one more run, but Hill got the final out on a ground out to Janos at second, who threw to White to send the Eagles to the next round.
The Division II playoff schedule calls for the quarterfinals on Saturday at 4 p.m. at the site of the highest seed; semifinals Wednesday at Southern New Hampshire University at either 5 or 7 p.m.; and the finals also at SNHU on June 9 at 4:30 p.m.