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Poland’s hit lifts Kettle Run past Fauquier, 4-3

Wednesday, Apr. 9 | By Fred Hodge
Tuesday night's Fauquier-Kettle Run softball game will never be called a work of art.

Then again, you could call it a dramatic masterpiece.

The two intra-county rivals squared off for the first time this season, with the two coaches having to endure a litany of negatives in the contest. Nerves, fielding miscues, missed opportunities at the plate, failures to get bunts down and base-running mistakes all were prominent at times during the contest.

The outcome came down to the final inning as host Kettle Run broke a 3-3 deadlock in the bottom of the seventh to edge the Falcons, 4-3, on a Forrest Poland run-scoring single.

The outcome gave Kettle Run its fourth straight victory following a 0-2 start. Fauquier absorbed its first loss of the spring to fall to 4-1.

Fauquier pitcher Tess Miller retired the first two Cougar batters in the seventh to bring Debbie Stuart to the plate. She responded with a double to the left-center field fence to keep the kettle Run hopes alive.

"I knew I could get a hit. I knew if I could get on they could get me around," Stuart said appreciatively of her teammates. "I trust my teammates completely 100 percent."

Fauquier then opted to issue an intentional walk to cleanup hitter Shelby Stegmakier, sending Poland to the batter's box. "I was just hoping to get on base," Stegmaier said when asked if the walk frustrated her, and the free base moved Stuart into scoring position.

"I was just ready to hit the ball wherever it was," Poland said afterwards. "With Debbie and her baserunning skills, I knew she would score."

Poland sent a line drive into left field, with Stuart rounding third, never pausing as she heading home. She later asked how close the final play had been at the plate. "I didn't know where the ball was. I just heard people screaming get down, down, down, she said of her head first slide for victory.

"I'm proud of them," Kettle Run coach Tori Hill said of the night, noting some of the nail-biting moments of the battle. "In a game like this, I take it one pitch at a time. I stay in the moment because I believe in them."

Both pitchers entered the fray on hot streaks. Cougar Kaitlyn Munda had fired no-hitters in her last two starts, while Falcon Tess Miller was coming off a no-hitter of her own. Both contributed heavily to their respective tams, but each also struggled at times.

Munda struck out nine and allowed five hits, but she also hit three hitters, walked two and was called for nearly a dozen illegal pitches. "She was crow hopping, and the umps were calling it," coach Hill said, "But she worked through it."

Those problems did not follow her to the plate, however, as she recorded three of her team's eight hits. "I had been in a slump early in the season. I guess I was pumped up," Munda said of her hitting, including a first-inning triple that would have been a home run on any other area field.

For Fauquier coach Mark Ott, the game easily could be filed in the drawer containing "the ones that got away."

"We let [Tess] down," he said of Miller, who struck out five and permitted eight hits. "We made errors and we left people on base," Ott said of two of his unit's primary failings, as the Falcons left 10 runners stranded and committed five errors.

Munda, Stuart, Stegmaier and Poland accounted for all of Kettle Run's hits.

"They are tough outs. We knew that coming in," Ott said.

"I think we came together as a team tonight," Kettle Run's Stuart said of the come-from-behind effort..

Fauquier opened the scoring in the first when Ashtyn Foddrell tripled to dead centerfield to score Marlee Ott who was running for Miller who safe on a fielder's choice.

Kettle Run countered in its half of the inning, with Munda rocketing her triple and scoring on a slow grounder.

In the second, Fauquier went ahead again, as Jesse Goodwin and Agelle Marshall were hit by pitches before Munda walked Rachel Taylor and Leann Brown for a 2-1 lead.

The Cougars struck twice in their third inning, with Munda leading off with a double. Stuart followed with a soft single that landed just behind second base. Fauquier tried to cut Munda down as she headed to third.
The throw was awry and hit the fence in front of the Cougar dugout.

Munda headed for the plate, Miller picked up the loose ball and fired home pnly to see Marshall drop the ball. Stegmaier then singled to provide her team with its firs lead at 3-2.

Fauquier's final score came in the sixth when Lauren Sweeney singled, advanced on a bunt and later scored on a wild pitch.

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