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By Dallas Bordon
Dani Lukas delivered a two run first inning home run to pave the way to a 3-2 region championship win for the Raiders over Walnut Grove on Thursday night in front of a large home crowd.
“It felt amazing,” Lukas said of hitting what turned out to and early momentum swing. “She threw me an outside pitch and I didn’t even feel it hit the bat. I think that was the momentum builder for us.”
Senior catcher Ivie Drake was on board when Lukas connected on the outside pitch. Drake reached after leading the inning off with a double to right field.
Randee Bettis picked up the win despite throwing a total of 57 pitches in the first three innings. Bettis went the distance striking out six batters but didn’t get the calls she would of like to have in a night where she walked seven batters.
“You just have to adjust to whatever the umpire is calling even if you it’s not your zone you still have to adjust and that’s what I tried to do,” said Bettis. “I tried to adjust and keep it more on the plate and lower.”
Bettis received a little help from her friends both on and off the field as the Raider crowd proved to be a factor. A large vocal turnout of fans packed into Raider Field supporting the Raiders in a nail-biter.
Following the game coach Doug Kesler had his players thank the fans for their support all season by waving to them from the backstop area. And as for home field advantage, Kesler told his squad that winning the region is big. “Winning the region means a lot. It also means we don’t go on the road until we reach Columbus; we get to play right here in front of our fans,” Kesler said to his team huddled in left field following the win.
The Raider defense also came through for Bettis as her teammates flashed some leather behind her. With a run already in for Walnut Grove in the top of the fourth inning and two runners still on base, Courtney Alexander made a running catch of a foul ball popup just beyond third base to end the inning and the threat.
The very next inning, Bri Carr made a diving catch at shortstop to end an inning and later robbed a Walnut Grove hitter by making another diving stop to end the next frame with the tying runner on third base.
Madison County added a run in the second inning and Walnut Grove posted their only runs with one in the fourth inning and one in the sixth.