JOPLIN — The Crowder Lady Roughriders scored seven runs in the final three innings en route to a 9-1 run-rule win Friday over State Fair in the opening game of the Region 16 tournament at the Gene Bassman Softball Complex inside the Joplin Athletic Complex.
After a slow start, Crowder scored three runs in the fourth, three in the fifth, and two in the sixth with a three-run home run by Eila Infante and a game-ending two-run homer by Kristen Wade highlighting the late innings.
Meanwhile, Maddie Massanelli pitched a two-hitter, allowing one run (earned) over six innings and she struck out nine and walked one. State Fair took an early 1-0 lead, but Massanelli and the Lady 'Riders stayed the course on their way to their 51st win of the season and Massanelli's 25th in the circle.
"State Fair's a formidable opponent and they have a great pitching staff," Crowder head coach John Sisemore said. "She's (State Fair pitcher Madison Love) really good in the circle and we knew that it wasn't going to be easy and that we were going to have to take advantage when they made a mistake. Early in the game, she didn't make very many mistakes and so just kudos to them.
"We knew the wind was blowing in and we're a big hitting team, so we knew that we had to adjust our game a little bit offensively. With the wind blowing in, we knew we weren't going to hit a ton of home runs today or a lot of gap shots, so we thought if maybe we could get the ball down and put a lot of pressure on them to see what would happen."
Crowder improved to 51-11 on the season and the Lady 'Riders will not have as long a road to the championship as last season when they had to fight all their way through the losers' bracket to reach the championship game.
"It's a very tough game," Sisemore said of the opening game in a tournament. "For us, every single year, we've stumbled and we've been the No. 1 seed every year since I've been here. Even though we were tied for first coming in, with the head-to-head we ended up not being the No. 1 seed, it's just fun to get that monkey off your back and we can relax and just go play."
Wade led Crowder's 12-hit attack with three and she scored three runs and drove in two. Batting in the eighth spot in the lineup, Venezuelan right fielder Infante came through with two hits, two runs scored, and four RBI. Kenzi Spurgin added two hits and two RBI, while Maggy Rieschick also had a pair of hits. Lexi McClellan had one hit and one RBI, and Daryan Torix and Makaila Leonhart each rounded the hits with one apiece.
Spurgin hit a RBI double and a sacrifice fly, McClellan picked up her RBI on a sacrifice fly, and Crowder scored five runs on the two big swings of the bat by Infante and Wade.
The Lady 'Riders also were able to capitalize on three State Fair errors, after early in the game when it looked as if State Fair would be catching everything Crowder hit.
Crowder played rival Jefferson in the late game Friday.
CROWDER 9, STATE FAIR 1 (6 innings)
State Fair 010 000 — 1 2 3
Crowder 001 332 — 9 12 0
Madison Love and Gabi McGinty. Maddie Massanelli and Baylor Miles. WP: Massanelli. LP: Love. E: MacKenze Gudde, Kylie Johnson, Abby Rector. HR: Kristen Wade, Elia Infante. 2B: McGinty; Kenzi Spurgin. SH: Rector. SF: Lexi McClellan, Spurgin. SB: McClellan, Makaila Leonhart, Maggy Rieschick. LOB: State Fair 2, Crowder 7.