Lady Indians take first place in district
LAKE BUTLER — A leadoff error could’ve rattled her.
Giving up a single to put the go-ahead run aboard could’ve rattled her.
But that’s the thing about Morgan Cushman.
She never gets rattled.
With runners on first and second and Fort White clinging to a one-run lead, Cushman kept her cool under pressure and struck out her 12th batter of the night to finish off another complete game and send the Lady Indians to a 4-3 road win over Union County on Thursday night.
Fort White is now in sole possession of first place in District 6-1A.
“I’ve been through a lot,” said Cushman, who threw her fifth complete game of the season. “I’ve been pitching so much that pitching is 90 percent mental, 10 percent physical, so that’s one thing I’ve had to overcome. No matter what happens, it’s the next pitch. Take one pitch at a time. If something happens, shake it off and come back to the next batter twice as strong.”
Fort White (6-0, 4-0) had to battle back twice as strong after Cushman surrendered a two-run homer to Union County starting pitcher Kaylan Tucker that put the Lady Indians in a 2-0 hole in the first inning.
But Cushman got a run back herself in the third inning with an RBI double that scored Kylee Crews, who later became the hero of the night.
Crews came to the plate in the top of the fifth with runners on third and second and delivered a triple to left field that brought home Savana Terry and Aubrey Callum for a 3-2 lead after both singled earlier in the inning.
In the pressure loaded situation, Crews had one thought on her mind as she stepped into the batter’s box.
“I was just praying to hit the ball but to keep my eye on it because if I keep my eye on the ball I can hit it almost every time,” said Crews, who was 3-for-4 and just a home run shy of the cycle. “I just focus on keeping my head on the ball and I did it.”
Crews’ triple knocked Tucker from the game. She was charged with all four runs on six hits in four innings of work.
Lexi Androlevich took over on the mound for the Fightin’ Tigers and gave up a bunt single to Raven Miles that drove Crews in to extend Fort White’s lead to 4-2.
Union County (4-2, 3-1) got a run back in the sixth, thanks to a some help from the Lady Indians. After Teala Howard singled, Kensley Hamilton laid down a sacrifice bunt that moved Howard all the way to third.
As Howard slid into third, Fort White’s throw sailed past Miles and allowed Hamilton to score to pull Union County to within a run.
It was one of three Fort White errors on the night, a night that provided adversity for the Lady Indians for the first time this season.
And they responded.
“It’s nice to know that we made mistakes and they can play better and we won,” Fort White head coach Michele Padgett said. “That’s the thing — they know they can hit better, they know they can play better — so that’s a good thing.”