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LAWRENCEBURG -- Jeneca Thomas struck out 12 Monday to lead her Rockets squad to a 4-1 victory over Spencer County in the first round of the 30th District Tournament at Anderson County.
The Rockets faced Anderson (20-10) in the championship Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Thomas had only two innings in which she faced more than four batters.
“The curveball was really working, and the changeup got them most of the time,” Thomas said. “I threw the rise ball, too.”
It was Thomas’ rise balls that had the Bears hitting pop flys to a waiting defenders. But Spencer’s defense was just as sound behind left-hander LeEllen Thomas.
“We already knew from facing her before that she works the outer part of the plate,” Rocket Coach Kelly Cable said. “We’ve been practicing driving that pitch to the right side. Dee Dee [Davis] did it the very first at-bat, drove a bullet to right of center.”
Taylor Shaw followed Davis with a single, and Courtney Tinsley’s single scored Davis to give Shelby a 1-0 lead.
“I thought we were able to block out all the noise and distraction Spencer was making,” Cable said. “It was important for us to step up there that first inning. Spencer was pretty fired up and prepared to play, and I think that might have deflated their balloon.”
Slowly, the incessant cheering by the Bears (9-16) switched dugouts as the Rockets kept momentum on the field and at-bat. In the bottom of the fifth, Shelby put up the runs it would need.
Senior Hannah Stucker led off with a double to right field. Becca Mouser followed with a nearly identical double to score Stucker.
After Kristina Gramig grounded out, Davis smacked a triple to the center-field fence to score Mouser. Shaw grounded out, but scored Davis for the third run of the inning.
The Rockets were led by Davis, who was 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored.
“I don’t think we were ready to come out and win it,” Thomas said. “We needed to get up. I took our teammates in the dugout. They got up; then we got up.”
Spencer’s last rally attempt came in the top of the sixth. Thomas led off with a single, then scored when third baseman Tinsley misfired to second base off Krystin Manning’s hit.
But Stucker snagged a fly ball, and Thomas struck out Kayla Barmore to end the inning. Thomas had two walks and no earned runs in recording her win.