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By Nick Schrager
Marion County lost its first two games in the Little League Central Regional in Indianapolis.
After losing to the Ohio state champions Sunday, Marion County suffered its second defeated in a back-and-forth contest against the Nebraska state champions.
The losses do not mean they are out for the count, but it does put pressure on the team to do well in their final pool play game scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 24, against the Iowa state champions.
Kentucky vs. Ohio
Marion County lost its first game in the Little League Central Regional in Indianapolis on Sunday. Their opponents proved to be too difficult to beat, and the girls fell 11-4 to Ohio’s state champions.
“We just played a super big 12- and 13-year-old team and they hit the ball pretty well,” Coach Mike Benningfield said.
Marion County had a rough start during the first two innings of Sunday’s game when they allowed Ohio to get two runs. The locals themselves could not get on base.
In the third inning, the girls fought for their lives when Ohio loaded up the bases and got five runs. Later, the girls scored three runs thanks to Mariella Curtis, Haley Mattingly (after she stole home plate) and Cassidy Logsdon.
Neither team could gain a run in the fourth inning, but Haley Mattingly coaxed three consecutive flyouts that were caught by Jenna Cecil and Mariella Curtis.
In the top of the fifth, Ohio scored two runs after loading the bases for a second time. Jaci Benningfield and Alice Farmer denied runs in that inning by catching fly balls. Afterwards, in the bottom of the fifth, Marion County answered with a run of its own when Jaci Benningfield scored on a ground ball by Savannah Johnson.
Ohio scored two more runs in the final inning after a batter hit a double.
The Marion County girls could not get on base and reach Ohio’s score in the bottom of the sixth inning.
“We lost our first game last year and came back and won the whole thing so that’s our plan this year,” Coach Benningfield said, referring to last year’s 9-10-year-old state championship.
Haley Mattingly pitched six innings and allowed 11 runs, six of which were earned, on 12 hits. She pitched two strikeouts and allowed one home run.
Marion County had 26 at bats and three RBI in the loss. Savannah Johnson, Abby Jo Maupin, Mariella Curtis, Haley Mattingly and Jaci Benningfield had one apiece, and Jaci Benningfield’s hit was a double.
R H E
Ohio 205 022 - 11 12 3
Marion Co. 003 010 - 4 5 1
Kentucky vs. Nebraska
The Marion County 11-12 year old girls lost their second game in The Little League Softball Central Regional against Nebraska, 9-7.
Marion County started strong on Monday’s game, scoring three runs in the first inning. After being walked, Alice Farmer stole second and eventually scored. Savannah Johnson drove in Savannah Benningfield and Cassidy Logsdon with a double to centerfield.
Nebraska tied the game in the top of the third inning. After loading up the bases, a Nebraska batter hit a base-clearing double to left field.
In the top of the fourth, Nebraska broke the tie by scoring another run.
In the bottom of the fourth, Marion County loaded the bases, but managed just one run, which left the game even at 4-4.
In the top of the fifth, Nebraska added another on a ground ball that allowed a runner to score from third. Marion County’s third pitcher of the game would then go on to strike out Nebraska’s last batter of the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth, Kalei Cox reached first on a bunt single. Pinch runner Savannah Benningfield stole second and later scored on a Nebraska error. Savannah Johnson got on base on an error and eventually scored a run after Johnson reached first on an error. Jaci Benningfield singled, and scored on a second Nebraska error, and Abby Jo Maupin scored on Nebraska’s third error of the inning.
Nebraska came back in the top of the sixth, scoring four times on two hits, four walks, two passed balls and a wild pitch.
The bottom of the sixth was over before the Marion County girls could blink. Savannah Benningfield struck out. Kalei Cox popped out to third base, and Savannah Johnson grounded out to second.
R H E
Nebraska 003 114 - 9 6 4
Marion Co 300 130 - 7 8 1
Pool B Standings through Monday
Marion Co. 0-2