HANNIBAL | The Hannibal Lady Pirates fell 8-3 to the Fulton Lady Hornets on Monday in the season opener at Veteran's Softball Complex.
The third inning would prove to be the difference in the game with both teams entering the frame tied at one run apiece. Fulton would score four runs in the third inning, with three of those runs scoring on a botched tag on a sacrifice fly.
“It was really one play with that sac fly they scored three (runs),” said Hannibal head coach Andrew Pollard. “It was not a bad play, but it was unfortunate. Taylor Simms had the ball in her glove to tag her, but the (Fulton) player crossed the plate and unintentionally knocked it out of her glove and it just kind of went from there.”
The Lady Pirates had several scoring opportunities after Fulton scored four runs in the top of third inning. Hannibal would strand the bases loaded in the bottom of the third inning, but managed to score two runs in the fourth inning to come within two runs of the Lady Hornets.
Hannibal would also get the first two runners on in the sixth inning, but failed to capitalize and scored no runs in the frame. Fulton added three insurance runs in the last two innings.
Pollard said the team was rusty from not playing any actual games and having its practices limited.
“They were sometimes we weren't able to execute,” Pollard said. “We couldn't get hits together and had a lot of scattered hits, but we weren't able to get four or five hits in a row like (Fulton) had.”
Junior pitcher Kylie McAfee (0-1) started the game and went a full seven innings. She allowed 14 hits, walked four, had seven earned runs and struck out two batters.
Senior second baseman Adrya Nichelson had two hits, a walk and a run. McAfee, junior first baseman Emilee Wilson, senior center fielder Lauren Bramblett and sophomore right fielder Alina Hays each had a hit apiece.
In the second inning, Simms made a diving catch in foul ground and then threw out the Fulton runner at third base.
Pollard said it was an amazing catch that ended any chances of a second inning rally by Fulton.
“They were in a good position to score,” Pollard said. “If that ball drops, the batter gets another pitch and the runner on third is (still) in scoring position. That play was huge and what kind of kept us in the game at that time.”
Up next for Hannibal is a Saturday tournament in Monroe City, which begins at 10:45 a.m.
Pollard said there were a few positive takeaways from Monday's loss that the team can build on for the Monroe City tournament.
“Coming into this weekend at the Monroe City tournament that rust is going to be gone and those nerves are going to be gone,” Pollard said. “We are going to get a key player back in Sydney (Hart), our leadoff hitter and starting center fielder, who's out on quarantine.”