This season against Smith-Cotton, the Battle Spartans might as well be a custodial crew.
The team’s first-round win on Wednesday in the District 8 tournament completed Battle’s three-game, season-sweep of Smith-Cotton. After giving up two runs in the first inning, Battle stormed back, scoring 12 unanswered runs to beat the Tigers of Sedalia 12-2.
Standout performers in the Spartans’ lineup included Eliyah McCarthy, whose second-inning two-run home run jolted energy into Battle’s offense. The junior popped a hanging changeup over the outfield fence, just to the left of dead center. Making her performance more impressive, McCarthy is nursing a bruised heel and battered ankle, injuries she sustained earlier in the week.
Brooke Nutter shined in the batter’s box as well as on the rubber. A double and a triple accompanied the sophomore’s seven strikeout performance in the circle. Opposing batters struggled to get hits, batting .118 against the righty.
Powered mostly by its bats, Battle dominated Smith-Cotton from the bottom of the first inning to the final out. Spartan hitters only struck out once, capturing a .423 batting average. Four singles, Five doubles, a triple and a home run proved too much for the Smith-Cotton, and the game ended in a run-rule after five innings.
“We all hit the ball solid,” Nutter said. “We timed her up good. Grip and rip.”
Battle batters hit safely 11 times, but they were also helped out by an error-prone Tigers defense. The Spartans will not have this luxur Thursday against Rock Bridge. The Bruins’ defense has locked down opposing offenses all season long, including the Spartans. Centerfielder Maddie Snider had two diving catches when Rock Bridge traveled to play at Battle.
The Bruins will also field superior pitching and a stronger lineup than Smith-Cotton. Rock Bridge put up seven runs and held Battle scoreless in the teams’ September 10 regular-season matchup.
“(Rock Bridge) will be more of a challenge, so it’s good to have the momentum from this game,” Nutter said.
Despite that, Battle coach Joe Henderson remains unphased.
“We’re good enough to beat anybody, but nobody knows it. We’re the best worst team around,” Henderson said.
Battle will start its ace, Mya McCubbin, who sat out Wednesday as part of the Spartan’s regular rotation. The junior will look to upset the Bruins and make the District 8 championship held on Saturday. The first pitch for the semifinal game is 5 p.m. Thursday at Hickman.