ELKIN - The traditionally dubious number 13 was quite lucky for the Lady Rams Friday afternoon on Friday the 13th.
For a team that was supposed to be in a rebuilding mode this year, the Rams collected their 13th win of the season, pushing their impressive mark to 13-2 after blanking cross-town rival 10-0 at Crater Park.
“I thought the ladies did very well,” assistant coach Kimberly Swisher said. “They came out ready to play to this conference game. They are sitting at 13-2 on Friday the 13th, so I’m really pleased. It took us a little while to get going, but once we got going, we were hammering it.”
Courtney Groce was dominant in the circle, picking up the ‘W’ with five solid innings, while senior Courtney Barnes provided more than enough offense with a two-run big fly to right in the second.
Starmount wasted no time getting things going against the Elks, pushing a run across just three batters in on an error in the infield.
Two batters later, Ashley Osborne reached on another miscue that brought home Mackenzie Hutchens to give the Rams an early 2-0 advantage.
Starmount tacked onto the lead with a three-run second inning.
After Alli Jones just missed a lead-off homer to center, Groce brought her home with an RBI single to shortstop. Three batters later, Barnes belted a two-run shot that sailed over the right-field fence to extend the cushion to 5-0.
Elkin starter Cayley Shoemaker kept Starmount’s bats quiet over the next two innings, giving the her team a shot at a rally.
The Elks put runners on base in the third and the fourth, but could not push a run across against Groce, who racked up six strikeouts on the afternoon.
Starmount then exploded for five runs in the top of the fifth, sending nine batters to the plate to build their lead to double-digits.
Hutchens got things started with an RBI single up the middle before Sydney Caudle cracked a two-run double in the left-center gap to push the lead to 8-0.
Osborne followed with a two-run bloop single to right to extend the lead to 10-0.
Groce shut down the Elks in the fifth to end the game after five frames due to the mercy rule.
The Lady Rams remain in the chase for a regular-season Mountain Valley Conference crown with the victory, and can distance themselves from Wilkes Central even further with essentially two games against the Eagles tomorrow night.
The teams will finish a game that was suspended in the seventh inning because of storms with the score tied 4-4 in the first meeting in Boonville before beginning their second matchup.
Swisher, who was filling in for head coach Heather Courts against Elkin, says she has faith in the team against the Eagles.
“We have to be ready to go,” she said. “[Central] is a feisty little team, but I have complete confidence in the girls.”
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.