KNOB NOSTER — A six-run third inning, including a grand slam, rallied the Knob Noster softball team to an 18-8 win in six innings over Carrollton on Tuesday.
The Lady Panthers spotted Carrollton a 7-2 lead following a five-run top of the third before tying the game and then taking the lead in the bottom of the inning. A pair of walks and a single loaded the bases with no one out and Kat Cawelti was hit by a pitch to force in a run. Adriane Merseman then followed with a grand slam to left-center to tie the game at 7-7.
“Just a pitch straight down the middle that she gave me and I just sat back on it,” Merseman said.
It was Merseman’s second home run of the season to go with several doubles and triples.
“When she times up a pitcher, she’s capable of doing that night in and night out,” said Knob Noster coach Mark Carey.
Merseman, the Lady Panthers’ No. 9 hitter, reached base in four of her five plate appearances in the game and scored all four times. Knob Noster’s No. 7 and No. 8 hitters — Kiersten Foster and Cawelti — also produced plenty of runs.
Foster drew a pair of walks and was hit by a pitch, scoring three runs. Cawelti singled twice and was hit by a pitch twice, scoring five runs. She was lifted for pinch hitter Jaden Sowers in the sixth and Sowers drew a walk. The No. 7-9 spots in the Knob Noster lineup accounted for 12 of the Lady Panthers’ 18 runs.
“At the bottom of the lineup, they’re very patient at the plate,” Carey said. “They know their job. They know how good they are and they know how to get on base. We’ve been relying on the bottom of our lineup a lot this year to get us going and then the top of the lineup takes care of business.”
After allowing a run in the first, another in the second and five in the third, Lady Panthers pitcher Macy Buzzanga settled down, allowing one run the rest of the way and retiring Carrollton in order in the sixth.
“We have some back-up pitchers, but we felt comfortable with Macy being at 70-75 percent just to whip it in there,” Carey said. “We told them just to go out there and settle down, play their game.”
After falling behind 2-0, the Lady Panthers rallied with a pair of runs in the second. Buzzanga singled to drive in Cawelti and Merseman scored on an error.
Knob Noster loaded the bases again in the third after Merseman’s grand slam and Kyndal Eaves scored on a single by MaKalla Bentley to put the Lady Panthers in front 8-7.
Knob Noster added five more in the fourth. Zoey Hodson singled to drive in Foster and Cawelti. Jessica Sader then followed with an inside-the-park three-run home run over the head of the Carrollton right-fielder.
“I didn’t think it would be an inside the park home run,” Sader said. “I guess she just mis-judged it and ran in a little too far. I was just trying to run as fast as I could.”
After a Katie Scott triple added a run for Carrollton in the fifth, Knob Noster added three more in the bottom of the inning. Foster scored on a fielder’s choice and Cawelti scored on another fielder’s choice when the Carrollton catcher missed a tag at the plate. Hodseon then drove in Merseman with a single.
In the sixth, Buzzanga singled in Cawelti and Hodson drew a bases-loaded walk to force in Merseman, invoking the run rule.
Knob Noster (10-3, 5-2 MRVC East) will host Lexington on Thursday.
Eric Ingles can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @Eric_Ingles